The administration of President Donald Trump has redirected nearly $34 million from Planned Parenthood and other entities to non-abortion family planning providers that agreed to comply with the administration’s rule generally prohibiting abortion referrals by the funds’ recipients.
While Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, challenged the rule in court, the organization failed to convince the judge to put it on hold. It then said it will forgo the funds awarded under Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which pays for family planning projects for mostly poor people.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the fund shift on Sept. 30, saying the new grantees were picked to “prioritize unserved and underserved jurisdictions and low-income individuals” as well as “filling service gaps left by the grantees that chose to leave the Title X program rather than comply with the law.”
Of the 18 entities that relinquished the funding, eight belonged to Planned Parenthood. Most of the others were government agencies in states with left-leaning legislatures, including New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
HHS awarded the money to 50 other providers, expecting “that the supplemental awards will enable grantees to come close to—if not exceed—prior Title X patient coverage.”
The department announced a change in the Title X rules in February, bringing back the anti-abortion language that was initially put in place under President Ronald Reagan and reversed under President Bill Clinton.
The rule “prohibits the use of Title X funds to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning,” the department stated in a release.
The rule also requires “clear financial and physical separation between Title X and non-Title X activities.”
Regardless of the rule change, Title X funding can’t be used to fund abortion procedures. The rule addresses the complaints of abortion opponents, who have argued that the Title X funding helps abortion providers free up other money that can then be used to fund abortions.
Planned Parenthood didn’t respond to a request for comment. It previously stated, “It would be impossible” for it to participate in the Title X program under the new rule as it would need to separate its abortion facilities from its clinics that provide the Title X-funded services.
The revised rule allows Title X recipients to counsel patients on abortion, but it precludes them from directing the patient to an abortion provider. As an exception, it requires of the grantees “referral to other medical facilities when medically necessary,” which includes referrals for “abortion because of an emergency medical situation,” the department stated in the final rule (pdf).
Planned Parenthood was estimated to draw from Title X less than 4 percent of its revenue, which reached close to $1.7 billion in fiscal 2018.
The organization has been a leading proponent of abortion, performing more than 330,000 of the procedures per year (pdf). It has also been the primary target of abortion opponents, who have long pushed for stripping it of taxpayer funding, of which it collects more than $560 million a year.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.