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- Planned Parenthood announced August 19 that it would withdraw from Title X, a federal funding program, rather than comply with new rules restricting abortion services.
- The decision could affect an estimated 1.6 million people who rely on Planned Parenthood services through Title X, a federal statute that funds family planning services for low-income and uninsured people.
- Reduced access to contraception could lead to more unintended pregnancies, according to advocates for reproductive health access. Poor women are most at risk.
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Facing a choice between continuing to provide abortion services and receiving federal funds, Planned Parenthood has opted out of receiving an estimated $60 million in funding from Title X, a federal statute that funds reproductive healthcare for low-income people, the New York Times reported.
The family planning organization announced plans to withdraw from Title X on August 19 after President Donald Trump declared a “gag rule” that would prohibit clinics that provide abortion services, or even referrals, from getting funding.
Title X provides about $286 million annually to serve about 4 million people who would otherwise be unable to afford healthcare, including birth control, wellness exams, cancer screenings, counseling, and STI testing and treatment, according to a 2018 report from the Congressional Research Service.
Planned Parenthood is estimated to serve about 41% of Title X patients, so the loss of funding could interfere with birth control access for 1.6 million people, particularly women who are uninsured or low-income.
It could also increase the number of unintended pregnancies by delaying access to birth control, according to Melissa Grant, chief operations officer of carafem, a nonprofit that provides reproductive healthcare services in Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, and Washington, D.C.
“Planned Parenthood is an expert in providing quality information and reproductive services and taking this out of their hands means those who take over may not do as well, be as cost-efficient, or provide as good results,” she told Insider. “If you truly want to prevent abortion, you would invest in low-cost birth control that is easy to obtain, and information that is readily accessible.”
The funding loss impacts more than just Planned Parenthood
As a result of the gag rule, a variety of organizations that provide abortion information, services, or referrals will not be able to provide low-cost birth control through Title X, which Grant said is a crucial piece of long-term reproductive health.
“Women seeking abortion information have had an unintended pregnancy, and they may not have good healthcare access. Providers have a unique opportunity to consult with them to evaluate what’s most effective for long term goals and family planning,” she said.
Allowing organizations to provide a wide spectrum of services means people can be connected with birth control quickly and efficiently to prevent another unintended pregnancy, Grant said.
Financial limitations could prevent patients from receiving effective healthcare
In addition to delaying care, the new rule could also reduce the quality of both contraceptive services and reproductive health information available to low-income women, as they will be forced to decide based on what’s best for their finances instead of their health, according to Grant.
“Birth control can be very complicated. There’s not a one-size-fits-all option. Getting accurate information based on health history can help determine what is best for each person,” she said. “Funding took the cost of that out of the equation and leveled the playing field for low income people. Now they’ll have to find care that they can afford instead of care that’s most effective.”