By Tara Law
August 14, 2019

A new Trump administration abortion rule may cause Planned Parenthood to be “forced out” of a federal program on Monday that helps to fund reproductive healthcare care like cancer screenings, STD testing and birth control for 1.5 million of its patients.

The healthcare nonprofit declared on Wednesday that it will leave the Title X program instead of agreeing to a new set of Trump administration rules which are scheduled to go into effect on Monday. The new regulations include a ban which will block Title X program health providers from telling patients how or where they can receive an abortion.

Title X gives out more than $286 million worth of grants to states and healthcare providers for family planning and preventative healthcare services for low-income and uninsured people.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services announced its final plans for a new set of revisions to Title X. The new guidelines block Title X healthcare providers from providing abortion counseling or referring them to an abortion provider. Abortion providers would also need to be physically and financially separated from facilities where Title X services are provided – this prohibits the current situation at many existing family planning clinics.

Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting President and CEO, described the rule in a statement on Wednesday as a “gag on health care providers.”

“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,” Johnson said.

On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood also sent a letter to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit announcing that it must leave the Title X program unless the court steps in before the compliance deadline for the new rules, Aug. 19.

Planned Parenthood, which estimates it serves “nearly half” of the 4 million Title X patients, argued that the nonprofit and other providers are being “forced out” of the program by the new regulations. The nonprofit said there are many places, especially in rural communities or communities of color, where Title X patients don’t have an alternative to Planned Parenthood.

The organization also noted that public health experts, including the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Physicians, have condemned the rules. In May 2018, 110 health organizations announced their opposition to the change in rules in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

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