Planned Parenthood said Monday it will withdraw from a major federal family-planning program that’s worth an estimated $60 million for the organization, three days after an appeals court once again upheld a Trump administration rule that prevents it from referring or promoting abortion.
At issue is the Title X federal family-planning program and the Trump administration’s Protect Life Rule that clarifies what recipients can say about abortion. Title X is worth nearly $300 million and provides low-income people with cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and contraceptives.
Planned Parenthood had hoped a federal court would intervene, but on Friday the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals once again declined to block it. It was the third time the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of the rule while a lawsuit against it proceeds.
The Department of Health and Human Services had given Title X recipients until Monday to decide if they would follow the rule.
Planned Parenthood on Monday called it “an unethical and dangerous gag rule” that “forced” the organization out of Title X.
“I want our patients to know: while the Trump administration may have given up on you, Planned Parenthood never will,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. “Our doors are open today, and our doors will be open tomorrow. The Trump administration’s gag rule will reverberate across the country.”
Pro-lifers on social media criticized Planned Parenthood for its decision.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn tweeted: “Planned Parenthood chose to withdraw if it couldn’t do abortions. So much for phony claim they are only interested in women’s health.”
No, Planned Parenthood chose to withdraw if it couldn’t do abortions. So much for phony claim they are only interested in women’s health. https://t.co/uftykmGTTL— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) August 20, 2019
National Right to Life said in a Tweet: “Planned Parenthood chose abortion and dropped their federal funding through Title X, which is about 60 million dollars. Is anyone surprised?”
Planned Parenthood chose abortion and dropped their federal funding through Title X, which is about 60 million dollars.— National Right to Life (@nrlc) August 19, 2019
Is anyone surprised? https://t.co/YRIUYfTZ65
Federal law prohibits taxpayer funding of most abortions. HHS released a “Myth vs. Fact” sheet this month defending the rule, saying referrals for abortion are not permitted “because the statute written by Congress prohibits funding programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
HHS also pushed back against Planned Parenthood’s claim that HHS was harming low-income people. HHS said there are 4,000 Title X service sites across the nation, with Planned Parenthood “representing fewer than 400.”
“To the extent that Planned Parenthood claims that it must make burdensome changes to comply with the Final Rule, it is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services to clients in need of these services,” HHS said.
“Like all Title X providers,” HHS added, “Planned Parenthood has the option to comply with the 2019 Title X Final Rule, which faithfully implement the statutes, and continue to receive federal funding.”
Planned Parenthood said it serves 40 percent of patients nationwide who receive care through the Title X program.
The new rule prohibits Title X funds from being used to “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.”
A separate part of the rule requires recipients to financially and physically separate their abortion services from their non-abortion services. That part of the rule won’t go into effect until March.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Andrew Burton/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.