Planned Parenthood hangs onto federal grants despite GOP objections

Planned Parenthood hangs onto federal grants despite GOP objections

The Trump administration will continue funding Planned Parenthood through a national family planning program, despite arguments from Republicans that it should be excluded from the grants. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday the 96 organizations across the U.S. that would receive Title X family planning grants, including 13 Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Most of the organizations that will receive funding also participated in the program last year, though 12 new grantees were added, HHS said. The recipients should be receiving the grants no later than Sept. 1. 

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“Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to continue providing access to high-quality family planning and related preventive health services with an emphasis on overall health and well-being of every person,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir.

“This vital public health program makes important contributions toward achieving optimal health outcomes for the women and men who depend on it.”

The GOP opposes any federal money going to Planned Parenthood. While federal law prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, Republicans argue money is fungible and any given to Planned Parenthood indirectly supports abortion.

HHS did not specify how much the grant awards would be for each organization, leaving open the possibility that Planned Parenthood could receive less funding than in previous years. 

Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens noted that the announcement from HHS was strange because it didn't outline the size of the grants or the time period. 

“What is clear is that HHS intends to award Title X grants to Planned Parenthood for fiscal year 2018, further reinforcing the fact that Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider in the Title X program," Laguens said.  

The administration this year changed the requirements for receiving Title X funding, prompting lawsuits from Planned Parenthood. 

The group argued the changes, which include an emphasis on abstinence and natural family planning, would disadvantage it in the application process. 

Planned Parenthood sued the administration, seeking to have the new requirements thrown out, but lost the case.

The announcement Thursday is likely a disappointment for Republicans and anti-abortion groups that hoped the administration would quickly defund Planned Parenthood. 

But the administration is limited in what it can do until it finalizes a rule that would dramatically change the Title X program. 

The proposed rule would ban Title X recipients from referring women for abortions and lift the requirement that grantees counsel women on abortion as an option. 

It would also require a physical and financial separation between Title X clinics and abortion services. 

The proposed changes have been cheered on by anti-abortion groups, which see it as a way to defund Planned Parenthood, since Congress has been unable to. 

The comment period for the rule ended this week.