Planned Parenthood rejects federal funding over ‘gag rule’
Planned Parenthood announced this week that it was withdrawing from a federal family-planning program that funds health care for poor women, rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that bars participating clinics from telling patients where and how they can get an abortion. The group receives some $60 million a year through the program, Title X, which Planned Parenthood uses to provide 1.5 million women each year with services such as contraception and pregnancy tests, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and cervical and breast cancer. Planned Parenthood’s acting president, Alexis McGill Johnson, said the group had no choice but to opt out of Title X because of the “unethical” new rule. “Our patients deserve to make their own health-care decisions,” McGill Johnson said, “not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them.”
The implementation of the new Title X rule was cheered by anti-abortion groups. “It is a long-awaited victory that will energize the pro-life grass roots,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life. The impact of Planned Parenthood’s exit from Title X will vary across the country: Some states, including Illinois and Vermont, have said they will make up the shortfall. But in Utah, where Planned Parenthood is the only Title X provider, and Minnesota, where it serves 90 percent of Title X recipients, cutbacks could mean low-income women will face long waits for appointments. Some, the group says, might opt to go without any care at all.
What the columnists said
Planned Parenthood insists Trump is forcing them from Title X, said Tiana Lowe in WashingtonExaminer.com. “This is a lie.” All this new rule does is tighten “the flow of public funds away from any actual abortions—as federal law requires.” And any woman wanting an abortion can easily check online and find a provider; they don’t need Planned Parenthood to do that for them. Unfortunately, the group has chosen “to satisfy the whims of abortion activists over the health of women seeking care.”
No respectable medical provider would obey this “gag rule,” said Melissa Gira Grant in NewRepublic.com. Now Planned Parenthood clinics across the country will on average lose 19 percent of their funding, and millions of poor Americans will lose access to vital services. If you want to know what will happen next, “Texas provides a disturbing preview.” After the state clamped down on family-planning funds in 2011, long-acting contraceptive use fell by 35 percent and Medicaid-covered births jumped 27 percent.
Planned Parenthood’s withdrawal will “help the president cement his popularity with abortion opponents ahead of 2020,” said Paige Winfield Cunningham in The Washington Post. Before the 2016 election, Trump won that constituency by promising, among other things, to name pro-life judges to the Supreme Court and defund Planned Parenthood. He gave them Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh; now “he’s checked off the ‘defunding’ box.” That will convince conservative pro-lifers that Trump is a good bet, again.