Trump administration shortens funding period for grants to Planned Parenthood, other groups

Trump administration shortens funding period for grants to Planned Parenthood, other groups
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The Trump administration on Wednesday shortened the funding period for grants awarded to organizations providing family planning services.

The Title X grants will fund groups that offer birth control, STD testing and other family planning services through March 2019. Previous funding lasted for three-year periods.

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The change suggests the administration might be planning to wrap up a proposed regulation that would revise the requirements for receiving Title X funding, a move that some critics say is aimed at excluding Planned Parenthood. 

"Shortened and inconsistent program grant cycles that force Title X entities to semi-annually compete for funding causes undue administrative burden, detracting from health care providers’ daily work of delivering high-quality preventive health care in communities across the country," said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a membership organization that represents clinics funded by Title X.

"This administration should acknowledge that Title X and its provider network have a proven public health track record and revert the program’s grant awards to their traditional three-year cycles.”

The proposed regulation, announced in May, would ban recipients of Title X funds from referring women for abortions. It would also remove the requirement that Title X organizations counsel women on abortion as an option, in addition to requiring a physical and financial separation between those clinics and organizations that provide abortions. 

Republicans and anti-abortion groups have pushed for the changes as a way to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

While federal funding, including Title X grants, cannot go toward abortions, anti-abortion groups argue that any government funds received by Planned Parenthood indirectly support the procedure.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last month that Planned Parenthood would continue receiving Title X funds, to the disappointment of anti-abortion groups.

Though those groups said the administration is limited in what it can do until the regulation is finalized.

Making the grants seven months long instead of three years would give HHS enough time to finalize its regulation, after which it could award new grants to organizations more closely aligned with the administration's views on abortion and contraception.

"Even as HHS announces these important grants for health care, it is rushing to finalize a domestic gag rule that would take that care away," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

"By pushing the gag rule, HHS is trying to undermine a program that four million people depend on for essential reproductive health care."

HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.