Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program Monday absent court action

Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program Monday absent court action
© Getty Images

Planned Parenthood will leave a federally funded family planning program Monday unless a court blocks the Trump administration's new restrictions on abortion providers

While Planned Parenthood stopped using Title X family planning funds last month after the administration announced it would begin enforcing the restrictions, it told the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) it would stay in the program while it sues over the changes.

But the administration told Planned Parenthood it must completely exit the program by Monday if it does not plan to fully comply with the rules, regardless of whether it is using the money. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Providers "must demonstrate good-faith efforts to comply with the final rule by August 19, 2019," Diane Foley, a Trump official told Planned Parenthood last week.

"Your proposal to remain in the Title X program without complying with the final rule, even in the absence of drawing down or using Title X grant funds, is inconsistent with that guidance." 

As such, Planned Parenthood on Wednesday asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to block the abortion restrictions by Monday to prevent its "expulsion" from the program. 

Several lower courts had blocked the administration from enforcing the rules while they were being challenged in court, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit threw out those injunctions in June.

Planned Parenthood is now waiting for a larger panel of the 9th Circuit to decide whether to reinstate those injunctions.

The Trump administration has long sought to cut Planned Parenthood from Title X, which funds health care clinics and organizations that provide birth control and other reproductive health services to low-income women. 

Planned Parenthood has been a mainstay in the program for decades, serving about 40 percent of all Title X patients and receiving millions of dollars in federal funds.

But the Trump administration argues taxpayer dollars shouldn't go to groups that perform abortions, even though the money is prohibited from going toward the procedure under long-standing federal law.

Providers must give written assurance by Monday that their family planning projects do not provide abortion.

Providers must also submit an "action plan" describing how they will comply with the rules, which also bans providers from referring women for abortions.

HHS told providers last month that it expects "grantees will begin to implement the actions stated in their action plans immediately" and it doesn't intend to bring enforcement actions against those making "good-faith" efforts to comply with the rule.

Planned Parenthood could participate if it agreed to stop providing and referring abortions. 

But to do so would be unethical, said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. 

“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," she said.