Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania will lose nearly $400,000 of annual funding it received through Title X, a federal program that provides reproductive health care services to low-income Americans.
Planned Parenthood announced it was withdrawing from Title X on Monday following a new Trump administration rule that would prohibit clinics from getting funding through the program if they provide abortions or refer patients to places that do.
“A lot of people don’t even realize that they’ve possibly received [services through] Title X funding,” said Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania’s Sara Dixon. Planned Parenthood serves 36 percent of Title X patients in the state and provides services on a sliding scale or free of cost to more than 1.5 million people across the U.S.
For many low-income Pennsylvanians, it’s already difficult to access free or low cost reproductive services through Title X. Planned Parenthood is the only Title X provider in Bucks, Cambria, Monroe and Somerset counties, according to data from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office. Fourteen counties in the state have no Title X clinics and another 23 counties only have one provider.
The Trump administration issued the policy change in 2018. Federal law already prohibits clinics from using funding directly for abortions. Under the new rule, clinics lose Title X funding that covers other reproductive health care services, like breast cancer screenings and pregnancy tests.
“[The Trump administration rule] censors health care providers from telling patients about full and complete care,” Dixon said. “That, to me, is just outright wrong. The federal government is coming in and telling health care providers what they can and can’t do. It’s withholding information from patients.”
Last week, Planned Parenthood asked a federal appeals court to block the rule, but the court rejected the health care provider’s request, a move anti-abortion rights groups support.
“The fact that Planned Parenthood is choosing to now reject the Title X money given the new guidelines, demonstrates to everyone that abortion is their number one priority, as we’ve said all along,” said Michael Greer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute.
Planned Parenthood’s Sara Dixon said there will be no disruption in services because Planned Parenthood started a local, donation-based “defund fund” to make up for the funding loss. She wasn’t able to provide specifics on how much money was in the regional fund.
“We’re not going to compromise our care, and our patient services will remain the same,” Dixon said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Pennsylvania has the third largest population that qualifies for Title X services. The program was created in 1970 under President Nixon.