Days after the Trump administration issued a rule barring many health centers from providing abortion referrals, Planned Parenthood of Illinois said that it expects to continue offering such services despite the prospect of losing millions of dollars in funding.
Under the new rule, finalized by the Trump administration last week, health providers such as Planned Parenthood will no longer be allowed to directly refer patients for abortions if they accept Title X money. That funding supports family planning services and related preventative care, especially for low-income patients.
Providers who accept those dollars will also have to make sure that if they do perform abortions, those are financially and physically separated from other services supported by Title X money. And they will no longer, as the current rules stipulate, be required discuss abortion as an option when counseling pregnant patients.
In response, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has said that it will not participate in the Title X program if the new rule goes into effect in two months.
“We will not violate our own medical ethics, and because of what the gag rule does, which blocks patients from getting accurate information about their care, we won’t accept the money,” said Julie Lynn, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
Lynn noted, however, that “we’re going to continue to do everything we can to make sure patients are able to get the care they need,” saying that the organization has anticipated such changes since President Donald Trump took office.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois received nearly $2.5 million in Title X funding for September 2018 through March 2019 – more than 40 percent of the total amount awarded across the state, according to the federal government.
Across Illinois, more than 70 centers received Title X funding, as of November 2018. About 112,000 people used family planning services at Illinois centers receiving Title X money in 2017, according to government data.
Several other health centers in Illinois that accept Title X money either declined to comment or did not respond.
Critics of the rule say it is largely targeted at Planned Parenthood, though the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among others, have also come out against the rule.
The rule’s supporters, however, say it’s an improvement on requirements surrounding Title X funding, which already cannot be used to pay for abortion. They say it could allow more providers who are opposed to abortion to accept the money because they would no longer be required make abortion referrals or discuss abortion as an option.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release Friday that the rule “makes notable improvements designed to increase the number of patients served and improve the quality of their care.”
The changes will “ensure greater compliance with current federal and state laws, safeguard vulnerable and abused women and children, and help protect freedom of conscience for health care workers,” said Denise Burke, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an advocacy group, in a news release Friday.
But the rule is sure to face challenges in court. The attorney general of Washington state, for example, has already said he will sue over the rule, which could delay its implementation.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined a group of nine Democratic governors who wrote a letter to the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, urging the administration to rescind the rule. The governors said in the letter that if the rule is not pulled back they will explore legal options to block its implementation.
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February 27, 2019 at 04:39PM