'Our Doors Will Stay Open' Despite Title X Funding Threat, Planned Parenthood CEO Kim Evert Says

Mar 22, 2019

A proposed rule from the Trump administration would bar federal Title X funding to health care organizations that provide abortions. 

Since 1970, Title X has been providing federal funding toward many reproductive health care centers that provide services like STD testing and gynecological care, but the funds have always been barred from going towards pregnancy termination. 

Kimberlee Evert, pictured, is the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. The organization provides healthcare services on a sliding scale for thousands of patients in Western Pennsylvania.
Credit Courtesy of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania

Kimberlee Evert, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, says the nearly century-old local branch will keep treating patients, many at no charge, even if the Trump proposal goes through May 3.

"It's frightening when the government thinks it can come in and tell your medical providers what they can and can't say, and to tell them that they can't give people options, or try to dictate the medical care that's being provided," she says.

The bulk of PPWP's patients qualify for free reproductive health care covered by Title X, Evert says, though most don't know the funding source by name. While similar services are available in Pittsburgh for those with the resources to pay, Evert says Planned Parenthood is the only free and low-cost provider in many rural areas of western Pennsylvania, like Somerset and Johnstown. 

Later in the program:

Pittsburgh-based poet Sam Corfman tells 90.5 WESA’s Bill O’Driscoll that the question of gender identity is at the center of his award-winning debut collection of poetry, "luxury, blue lace." Corfman says the poems touch on societal expectations around gender and his own experience with gender roles as a child. 

And organizers are preparing for the City of Pittsburgh's fourth annual Inclusive Innovation Summit, which starts next Thursday. Speakers and panelists will gather downtown for two full days of discussions on how to address accessibility and mindfulness into established trends and evolving ideas about transportation, technology and the arts that would ideally, ultimately, benefit all Pittsburghers. Hear from two organizers of the event, along with two panel speakers: 

  • Jennifer Wilhelm, assistant director of the URA’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship;
  • Todd Smith, summit organizer and community digital specialist with the city’s Department of Innovation;
  • Betty Cruz, co-founder of Change Agency, which helps create partnerships between officials and folks implementing programs on the ground; and fellow panelist,
  • Clare Drobot, director of new play development at City Theatre, which creates space by and for diverse audiences. (Find more on Cruz and Drobot's co-panelists on collaboration Tye Clarke and Monica Ruiz here.)

Wilhelm says the event has grown a lot over the past four years, condensing from several locations city-wide to a more central Downtown locale, while adding free bus passes, child care and food to make the commute easier for those who'd like to attend. The summit has also expanded its scope, she says.

"In the beginning it was much more about traditional issues of race and inclusion from that mindset, but now ... we're also looking at disability and youth and seniors and access to digital technologies," she says. "We realized there needs to be more voices at the table."

The summit runs March 28-30 at three locations along the Boulevard of the Allies.

90.5 WESA's Noah Brode, Alex Lenigan and Mick Stinelli contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.