Planned Parenthood withdraws from Title X program over abortion 'gag rule'

Planned Parenthood rally
Supporters at a previous Planned Parenthood rally. (Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0)

Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X federal family planning program on Monday rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule prohibiting providers from referring women for abortions.

Planned Parenthood clinics will remain open, but they will operate without the $60 million in Title X funding from the federal government.

“I want our patients to know: while the Trump administration may have given up on you, Planned Parenthood never will. Our doors are open today, and our doors will be open tomorrow,” said Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson in a statement.

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The organization—which says about 40% of all patients who get care through the Title X program—will rely on emergency funds to keep its clinics open, as well as state funding in some locations.

Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association filed a lawsuit in March to overturn the so-called “gag rule” and the family planning organization said last week it would withdraw from the Title X program if the court did not act by Monday to block the new regulation.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave Title X grantees until Monday to file a plan indicating how they would comply with the new regulation.

RELATED: Trump administration will begin enforcing Title X abortion restrictions

In a statement, HHS said every health provider knew when the grants were awarded that they would have to comply with the new regulations. “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,” said Mia Heck, a spokesperson for HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

Heck said the department will work to ensure all patients continue to be served.

The battle over Title X will continue to play out in the courts, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California is scheduled to hear oral arguments the week of Sept. 23. However, the court declined Planned Parenthood’s request for emergency action prior to Monday’s deadline.

RELATED: AMA files lawsuit to block Title X rule restricting abortion clinic funding

McGill Johnson said the Trump administration put the Title X final rule in place as an “attack on reproductive healthcare.” In a press conference, she predicted that wait times for appointments will skyrocket and many low-income women who rely on Title X services will delay or go without care.

Anti-abortion groups Monday welcomed the news that Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider, was leaving Title X.

In a statement, the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List said what it called Trump’s “Protect Life Rule” stops the public funding of the abortion industry. “Today, Planned Parenthood showed its true colors by prioritizing abortion over family planning, refusing to comply with the Protect Life Rule and dropping out of the Title X program,” said the group’s president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

“It’s a great day for women’s health in America,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. “Planned Parenthood is America’s deadliest nonprofit, and the news that they’re refusing to accept taxpayer funds to target vulnerable women is a good thing for women's health.”

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