Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United
States, said its move was spurred by a federal appeals court
decision last month clearing the administration's way to restrict
Title X grants under a new policy critics have branded a "gag rule."
In addition to barring recipients from making abortion referrals,
the policy requires financial and physical separation between
facilities funded by Title X and those where actual abortions are
The rule, imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
is part of a broad effort by the Republican president, his allies in
Congress and numerous Republican-dominated state legislatures to
curtail abortion access in recent years.
Planned Parenthood, accounting for about one-fifth of all Title X
funds granted, had vowed to cease accepting money from the program
months ago, when HHS said it would start enforcing the new
restrictions. The group said it would rely instead on private
donations and emergency funds to make up the difference as best it
Monday's move marked a formal Title X withdrawal, to remain
permanent unless Congress acts to overturn the restriction or legal
challenges prevail in court.
"Due to an unethical and dangerous gag rule, the Trump
administration has forced Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title
10," Alexis McGill, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood,
told journalists on a conference call.
STATES FOLLOWING SUIT
Planned Parenthood is not alone. Legislatures in Maryland and
Massachusetts preemptively adopted measures to opt out of Title X
and provide state funding in its place if the new rule took effect.
And governors of five other states - Hawaii, Illinois, New York,
Oregon and Washington - have said they would do the same. So has
Maine Family Planning, a nonprofit, sole recipient of Title X funds
in that state.
Congress appropriated $286 million in Title X grants in 2017 to
Planned Parenthood and other health centers to provide birth
control, disease screening and other reproductive health and
counseling services to poor women.
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That funding already was prohibited from being used to pay for
abortions, but abortion opponents have long complained that the
money in effect subsidized Planned Parenthood as a whole, including
its abortion services.
The organization had been providing healthcare to about 40% of the 4
million people who rely on Title X funding annually, with 600 of its
clinics receiving money from the program.
Critics said Planned Parenthood's action showed it was primarily
focused on abortion.
"In withdrawing from Title X, Planned Parenthood has made it crystal
clear that abortion is its number one priority," said Ashley
McGuire, a senior fellow with the Catholic Association.
Abortion has remained one of the most contentious issues in U.S.
politics since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade
decision affirming a woman's constitutional right to terminate her
Opponents cite religious beliefs in decrying abortion as immoral,
while the other side casts abortion restrictions as infringing on
women's private medical choices and control over their own bodies.
Federal judges in Washington state, California and Oregon, among
nearly two dozen states challenging the administration's rule in
court, issued preliminary injunctions against its enforcement
earlier this year.
But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on June 20 lifted those
injunctions, and the same court rejected emergency bids to overturn
that decision in July. That allowed the restrictions to take effect
while court cases proceed.
The rule largely restored a restriction created in 1988 and upheld
by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991, only to be suspended by the
Clinton administration in 1993.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Additional reporting by
Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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