Women's health providers are sounding the alarm after the Trump administration unveiled the final draft of a rule to cut federal funding for health care providers that perform abortions, or that refer patients to clinics that do so.
The funding comes through the Title X program, which provides reproductive health care services, from breast cancer screenings, to STI and HIV tests, to birth control.
Planned Parenthood provides more than 40 percent of Title X services in the U.S. It is already illegal to use Title X for abortion services.
“So the challenge is, how do you serve low-income patients without any funding or assistance to do that?” said Kim Evert, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. “It puts the onus on Planned Parenthood to figure out ways to continue to provide these services. But in many cases, particularly rural communities where there are so few resources available, it will mean people will not have access to these services.”
Pennsylvania has the third largest patient population that qualifies for Title X funding, after California and New York, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Within the state, 24 of Planned Parenthood’s 28 health centers would be impacted by the rule.
“It's women of color and families that utilize Title X services the most,” Evert said. “And that's who's targeted here. That's who are targeted in so many different policies. It's infuriating, and just something that we all need to be aware of and fight back against.”
Others welcome the Title X changes.
“We were very happy about it,” said Bonnie Finnerty, education director at the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. “We don’t believe this is going to compromise the quality of health care that women are going to get at all. We just believe this will help separating tax dollars.”
Finnerty said for abortion providers who are already following the law, and only using Title X for family planning services, the rule won’t change anything. But “for those who are muddying the financial waters, they’re going to have to change how they operate.”
But Evert noted Pennsylvania already has separation requirements that Planned Parenthood follows.
“We do get audited every year to show that there’s no use of federal money in abortion services, so their argument is completely invalid,” she said.
The rule is expected to be submitted to the Federal Register in the coming weeks, and will take effect 60 days later.