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Planned Parenthood to stop taking Title X funds rather than comply with 'gag rule'


People walk by a Planned Parenthood clinic May 18 in Chicago. Planned Parenthood announced Monday it will withdraw from the federal Title X program. Tribune News Service

Jennifer Haberkorn
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Planned Parenthood said Monday it will withdraw from the federal Title X program that helps low-income people access contraception rather than comply with what it calls a new Trump administration "gag rule" that prohibits it from providing abortion referrals to those patients.

The announcement comes amid a protracted legal battle with the White House over changes to the nearly 50-year-old Title X program, which annually provides $286 million to health care providers to fund family planning services such as birth control. The administration required grantees to explain by Monday how they would comply with the new rule.

All seven Planned Parenthood facilities that are direct grantees in the program and hundreds of "subgrantees" that received funding through a third party will withdraw from Title X, said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood serves 1.5 million low-income people under the program.

The Trump administration has "forced Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title X," McGill Johnson said. "We at Planned Parenthood will refuse to cower to the Trump-Pence administration."

McGill Johnson said that Planned Parenthood's doors will remain open and that it will continue to provide contraception services, relying on "emergency" funding from other sources in the case of Title X patients. But she indicated it would be a strain for the group.

"Using essentially fundraising for charity, what should be a state responsibility, a federal responsibility, ... (is) like holding an umbrella during a tsunami," she said.

Several states have pledged to try to come up with new funding to replace the federal dollars. The impact is likely to vary state by state. In some parts of the country, Planned Parenthood is the only Title X grantee, and in some regions, the state acts as a grantee, with several subgrantees, including Planned Parenthood facilities and other health care providers.

The decision by Planned Parenthood – which gets about $60 million in funding and is the program's largest grantee – is the latest in a yearslong battle between abortion-rights supporters and Republicans, who have advocated the elimination all federal funding for abortion providers and the "defunding" of Planned Parenthood.

If Planned Parenthood's decision to exit the Title X program holds amid the ongoing legal battle, it would mark one of the anti-abortion movement's most prominent recent victories.

The Trump administration's new policy affects all 4,000 of the country's Title X-funded facilities.

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