The Trump administration is considering policy changes that would cut government funding to health clinics that either provide abortions, or refer patients to clinics that do.
That would be a big hit to Pennsylvania clinics. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pennsylvania has the third largest patient population that qualifies for Title X funding in the country, after California and New York.
Clinics get this funding through Title X, a federal grant program that covers family planning services and preventative care to low-income and uninsured Americans.
The Trump administration says that it “would ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions."
Federal law already prohibits health centers from using Title X funds directly for abortions. But under this proposal, clinics would lose the Title X funding that covers other forms of care – like STD screenings and family planning.
Sari Stevens, executive director for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, says it's a regressive move.
“The Title X program reduces abortion care, it reduces STDs. Right now in our country we’re at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy, so it’s shocking that we’d walk that back,” says Stevens.
Stevens said that Planned Parenthood sees 36 percent of the state's Title X patients.
“Due to our rural makeup, for instance, half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in medically underserved areas of the state," she says. "So [under this proposal] those patients would no longer be able to seek preventative healthcare at Planned Parenthood health centers and many of them would have no other place to go.”
The last time such a proposal was made was in 1987, under President Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration proposal would have banned Title X clinics from referring patients to places that provide abortions, and required Title X health centers and clinics that provided abortions to exist as two, physically separate facilities. That rule was eventually rescinded by President Clinton.