Planned Parenthood will be foregoing as much as $60 million annually from a federal family planning program that will carry new anti-abortion rules.
“Planned Parenthood is still open. We are continuing to fight this rule in court,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood, said in a call with reporters Monday. She said the organization would do everything it could to make sure that clinics could stay open.
The Trump administration is giving healthcare providers until midnight to comply with a new rule that says organizations that accept federal family planning grants cannot directly provide patients with an abortion referral. Critics of the rule call it a “gag rule” because they say the government is forcing them to keep information from patients.
“We do consider ourselves being forced out of the Title X program because we cannot comply with the gag rule,” McGill Johnson said, calling the rule “dangerous” and “unethical.”
The grants in question, which amount to $286 million a year, come from what is known as the Title X program. They are used to pay for birth control, testing of sexually transmitted diseases, and cancers screenings for 4 million low-income adults and are not permitted to go toward abortions. Still, abortion foes and the Trump administration has said that the money is fungible and shouldn’t be used to prop up abortion providers.
“Abortion is neither healthcare nor family planning and taxpayer dollars should not support abortion,” Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, said in a statement.
In response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement, Mia Heck from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health said that organizations had the choice to accept the Title X grants already when they knew what the terms would be.
“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,” she said.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday turned down a request from Planned Parenthood to freeze the rule. The decision left Planned Parenthood to either comply or forego as much as $60 million in funding that it gets from the grants every year. The court had allowed the rule to go forward even though various cases on the matter are still pending. It next will head before a panel of judges on Sept. 23, which could again block the rules and allow Planned Parenthood to start receiving funding again.
Not all Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions, but they do refer patients who seek an abortion to clinics where they can obtain them. The organization warned that without the Title X funding, people will be forced to wait longer for care and will have to drive further distances in certain parts of the U.S.
Another provider in Maine, called Maine Family Planning, sent a letter to the Trump administration on Monday saying it was formally withdrawing from Title X as well, saying it was doing so “more in sorrow than in anger” and that it does “not take this decision lightly.” The organization has waged its own suit on the matter.
The latest rule is part of the Trump administration’s commitment to anti-abortion advocates and Republicans, for whom “defunding Planned Parenthood” has become a rallying cry given that the organization is the largest abortion provider in the United States.
The administration has set up new rules in other areas, such as giving employers an out if they have moral or religious objections to providing contraception and allowing workers a way to file complaints with the government if they’re forced into being involved in practices, such as abortion, to which they have moral objections. Opponents are suing over both measures.
The Trump administration will also require abortion services to be housed in separate facilities from birth control and other services, but that requirement won’t take effect until next year.