Planned Parenthood is leaving the federal government’s Title X program, which funds family planning services for low-income people, due to a new Trump administration rule prohibiting health care providers from making abortion referrals.
The organization announced its exit Monday, after an appeals court on Friday allowed the Trump administration to go forward in implementing the so-called “gag” rule.
“We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Federation of America acting president and CEO, said on a press call Monday.
About four in 10 Title X recipients use Planned Parenthood for health services, McGill Johnson said. She said that many people will be left without any options for reproductive services.
“In places like Utah, where Planned Parenthood is the only Title X grantee, or Minnesota, where Planned Parenthood serves 90 percent of the Title X patients, it will simply be impossible for other health centers to fill the gap,” she said.
She refused to discuss how much revenue Planned Parenthood affiliates receive through Title X, but according to Los Angeles Times, $60 million of the program’s funding goes to Planned Parenthood clinics.
Others on the call stressed that people of color will be disproportionately affected by the lack of Title X providers, and called on the Senate to adopt government spending legislation passed the House blocking the administration from implementing the rule.
In a prickly statement, HHS noted that the new regulations were in place when the latest Title X grants were announced and that every “grantee had the choice to accept the grant and comply with the program’s regulations or not accept the grant if they did not want to comply.”
HHS went on to suggest that Planned Parenthood was now abandoning its patients.
“Some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions – having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it – and they are abandoning their obligations to serve their patients under the program,” the statement said. “HHS is grateful for the many grantees who continue to serve their patients under the Title X program, and we will work to ensure all patients continue to be served.”
Planned Parenthood affiliates will submit letters by Monday evening with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notifying the government of the move. Monday was the deadline imposed by the administration for Title X grantees to confirm that they were complying with the gag rule and to lay out an action plan for compliance.
Reproductive advocates have had mixed success at winning courts decisions against the rule. District judges in three separate cases temporarily blocked the administration from moving forward with the policy, but those orders were put on pause by a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Friday an 11-judge panel of the appeals court declined to reinstate the orders blocking the Trump policy.
The 11-judge panel has scheduled oral arguments for the week of Sept. 23. It is not clear whether those arguments will deal with putting the rule on pause or with the underlying merits of the legality of the Trump administration’s policy, Helene Krasnoff, a vice president at Planned Parenthood, told reporters on the press call.