As Planned Parenthood withdraws from Title X, the Western Pa. branch loses access to $400,000 of funds | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

As Planned Parenthood withdraws from Title X, the Western Pa. branch loses access to $400,000 of funds

click to enlarge As Planned Parenthood withdraws from Title X, the Western Pa. branch loses access to $400,000 of funds
CP Photo: Hannah Lynn
On Mon., Aug. 19, Planned Parenthood officially withdrew from the federal family-planning program Title X. While the withdrawal is technically voluntary, Planned Parenthood representatives say they were forced out of the program due to new restrictions from the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, which would prohibit beneficiaries of Title X from providing abortions or referring to them as a method of family planning.

Planned Parenthood has been part of Title X for almost 50 years and has served 40 percent of all Title X patients, according to a press release from Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania (PPWP). The release estimated that withdrawing from Title X means PPWP will lose access to around $400,000 in annual funding.

“The Trump administration’s domestic gag rule censors — or 'gags' — any family planning center accepting Title X funding, so that they can’t tell women about, how and where to access abortion — even if the patient asks,” states the press release. “Planned Parenthood, along with a number of other grantees, have all made clear that the rule makes it impossible to uphold their medical standards and provide complete, ethical, quality care.”

A February announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services stated that the rule aims to serve providers who have a moral objection to abortion as a medical procedure, stating that it "protects Title X healthcare providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral."

As noted in PPWP's press release, the gag rule is opposed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, "as well as 110 public health organizations, and public health experts."

In March, Planned Parenthood took legal action against the gag rule, along with the American Medical Association, by suing the Trump Administration. The cases are ongoing, but the rule remains in effect unless it is resolved or otherwise blocked.

In a statement, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson noted that the rule would most immediately affect people “struggling to make ends meet” especially those in rural areas and people of color. “I want our patients to know: while the Trump administration may have given up on you, Planned Parenthood never will,” said Johnson. “Our doors are open today, and our doors will be open tomorrow. The Trump administration’s gag rule will reverberate across the country.”

To help fight the rule and stay active on the issue, PPWP has planned a “week of action” through Aug. 23 with events planned for each day, including Tuesdays with Toomey, a recurring noon meeting outside Sen. Pat Toomey’s office; a “social media storm” on Wed., Aug. 21, which encourages people to speak out on social media with #ProtectX; on Thu., Aug. 22, you can learn more about the issue with drinks at Full Pint Wild Side Pub ($1 from every draft goes to PPWP); and on Fri., Aug. 23, people are encouraged to contact their senators on their own, or stop by the PPWP office to do so.

The next fight in court is set for Sept. 23, when a panel of judges in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments about the case.

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