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New Filing: Unless Ninth Circuit Intervenes by August 19, Planned Parenthood, Which Serves 40 Percent of the 4 Million Title X Patients, Will Be Forced Out of The Title X Program

Planned Parenthood: We Will Not Let the Trump Administration Bully Us Into Withholding Abortion Information From Our Patients

WASHINGTON - Facing an HHS-imposed deadline of Aug. 19, Planned Parenthood today informed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that unless it intervenes, Planned Parenthood entities who are Title X grantees will be forced out of the Title X program by August 19 –– putting access to affordable birth control at risk for people across the country. Planned Parenthood health centers serve 40 percent of the 4 million Title X patients, and have been a part of the Title X program since its inception. 

Title X is the nation’s only dedicated program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care. The gag rule makes it illegal for any provider in the Title X program to tell patients how or where to access abortion, and imposes cost-prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” restrictions on health centers that provide abortion –– moves that are clearly meant to push Planned Parenthood health centers and other reproductive health care providers out of Title X. HHS –– which has asked all direct grantees to submit a plan for complying with the unethical gag rule by August 19 –– even awarded $1.7 million in Title X funding this year to the Obria Group in California, an anti-abortion group that has made clear they “do not provide contraceptives.” 

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

We refuse to let the Trump administration bully us into withholding abortion information from our patients. The gag rule is unethical and dangerous, and we will not subject our patients to it. Every person deserves to make their own decisions about their health care — not to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them. Let’s call this rule what it is — unethical, and a gag on health care providers. 

The Trump administration is targeting providers like Planned Parenthood in an attempt to end access to birth control and other reproductive health care. They are forcing qualified, expert health care providers out of our nation’s decades-old program for affordable birth control — providing grants instead to an anti-abortion group that doesn’t even offer birth control. Unless the 9th Circuit  intervenes, this gag rule will destroy the Title X program –– putting birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment at risk for millions of people struggling to make ends meet. This is a blatant assault on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it.

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Congress is also looking to take long-term action to protect Title X. In June, the House of Representatives passed a spending package including strong language blocking the Trump-Pence administration’s Title X gag rule from being implemented. Now, the Senate must push for a spending bill that includes protective language to make sure millions of people can continue to access health care through Title X.

Planned Parenthood plays an essential role in the Title X program, serving approximately 40 percent of the 4 million patients who get care through Title X health centers — that’s more than 1.5 million patients. In many communities Planned Parenthood is the only provider of affordable reproductive health care, or the only provider that offers specialized care like an IUD or the birth control shot. People who can’t find or can’t afford another reproductive health care provider may be left with nowhere to turn.  Even in areas where other providers are present, the providers often lack the capacity to serve additional patients. Community health centers themselves say there is no way they could fill the gap. The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the idea “ludicrous." In fact, many of the lists of “replacement” providers don’t even provide reproductive health care. In Louisiana, the state list of alternative providers included dentists and nursing homes. In Florida, it included school nurses. In Ohio, it included food banks. This may put affordable health care out of reach for many underserved communities, including communities of color and rural communities.

We know what happens when politicians succeed at blocking patients from care at Planned Parenthood — just look to Texas, where studies have shown that tens of thousands fewer women received care as a result of similar policies. Or look to Iowa, where a law resulted in the closure of four Planned Parenthood health centers — displacing nearly 15,000 patients, and leaving many with nowhere else to go.

Planned Parenthood is not the only direct grantee who will be forced out under the Trump Administration’s unethical gag rule — in total, the gag rule would force providers that serve nearly half of all Title X patients out of the program. So far, five governors (HI, IL, NY, OR, WA) have made clear that they could not participate in the Title X program if the gag rule was implemented, two state legislatures (MA and MD) have passed laws to that effect, and the only Title X direct grantee that serves the state of Maine has made clear they would not participate in Title X under the gag rule. In total, these eight states and Planned Parenthood health centers collectively serve 47 percent of the Title X patients in the United States.

The medical community, public health experts, and the general public are against this rule. In addition to the American Medical Association, the gag rule has been opposed by major medical associations, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, as well as 110 public health organizations, and public health experts such as former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, and many others. A group of 19 different medical organizations, mayors, state lawmakers, over 200 Members of Congress, newly elected Democratic governors, and several other governors have opposed this legislation as well.

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is many things to many people. We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital health care services, sex education, and sexual health information to millions of women, men, and young people.

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