Planned Parenthood of Southern New England says it will halt use of federal funds following the enforcement of new rules that prevent abortion referrals.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England says it will halt the use of certain federal funds following the enforcement of new rules that prevent abortion referrals.

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England will stop accepting federal family planning funds instead of adhering to new rules that bar the organization from referring women for abortions.

The Trump administration this week pledged to begin enforcing regulations that prohibit Title X grant recipients from counseling patients about abortion. Under the new rules, providers are still able to perform abortions, but must do so in separate clinics and abide by the requirement that they not refer patients to those facilities.

Faith-based groups that oppose abortions and birth control are now eligible for funding under the regulations.

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, which runs 16 clinics in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island – 12 of which receive Title X funds – will forfeit about $2.1 million annually by rejecting the federal money.

“Our patients are our primary concern and to be able to give them accurate information and complete information is our priority,” said Kafi Rouse, a spokeswoman for the organization’s southern New England locations. “They deserve honest health care and transparent health care and we will continue to provide that.”

Critics of the Title X overhaul have called the move a “gag rule” and said it creates barriers for women, especially women of color and low-income women, who are seeking abortions. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is part of a multi-state coalition suing to reverse the regulations. Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association are also challenging the new rules.

“The Trump administration is stubbornly plowing ahead despite these legal challenges, and needlessly sowing chaos and confusion for healthcare providers and women,” Tong said Friday. “The gag rule is a partisan attack on the private relationship between a woman and her doctor, with immense public health and economic implications.”

The Title X overhaul has been on hold since it was finalized in February. Several federal judges had blocked it from taking effect, but a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last month allowed the regulations to proceed. The appeals court, which will re-hear the case, denied a request from Democratic states to put the new rules on hold while the legal battle is underway. The Supreme Court could have final say over the case.

In Connecticut, about 43,000 Planned Parenthood patients rely on that federal funding for access to services such as cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control. Sixty-one percent of patients who qualify for Title X funding are people of color, the group has said. Twenty-nine percent are African American and 32 percent are Latino.

The organization said it will tap emergency funds to make up for the shortfall through March 2020, the end of its fiscal year. If the legal challenge is unsuccessful, Rouse said, the group will seek new donors and pursue increased contributions from its support base. The $2.1 million accounts for about 5.5 percent of the budget.

Planned Parenthood officials in other states, including Maine and Illinois, have also said they will reject the federal funds rather than abide by the new rules.

“The gag rule would keep us from providing the best health care, and there’s no way we could take funding from anyone who would restrict us in this manner,” Rouse said.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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  1. I will send my donation to Planned Parenthood right now. The fact is abortions are only a minuscule part of their service. The majority of it is health care for women who can’t afford it, and a large part of their outreach is for breast cancer screening. And Trump really doesn’t care about abortion – I’d be surprised if he hasn’t been party to one or two in his sordid life. It’s a political issue that he exploits to curry favor with the religious right

    1. To make unfounded accusations diminishes your case. I oppose spending my tax dollars to help women and men kill their unborn children. You want one? You pay for it. I’m OK with health care functions. Can you cite statistics of their health care vs abortions from a source other than Planned Parenthood?

      1. What unfounded accusations? Clarify that with support. I can’t post the link but has a good breakdown of the facts. The Susan B Anthony Foundation and the Republican Party have used totally misleading statistics to lay the claim that 94% of PP activity is abortion related. That bogus number includes pregnancy tests and other services. PP also provides pre-natal counseling – nutrition, proper pre-natal care, etc. But they don’t acknowledge those facts either

    2. So if abortion is only a “minuscule” part of their service then abide by the guidelines, get the federal money and provide all of the other vital health services. If you’re Planned Parenthood why would you risk a woman getting breast cancer for sake of the politics of abortion? Unless………you’re being disingenuous.

  2. PP has been operating abortion clinics as well as including advocating abortions with a big ole (Wink… Wink) in regard to federal law (Hyde admendment) and use of federal monies…
    All the Trump administration has done is make it less likely that “federal money” will go directly to a abortion!

  3. If abortion is an insignificant portion of Planned Parenthood’s business, as many of their supporters claim, it doesn’t make sense that they would turn down millions of dollars of federal funding because of a restriction that it can’t refer women for abortions. It is easy to see through this.

    1. That’s a weak argument. By accepting the fed’s money, this would limit access to this service for some women. Government money has NEVER been allowed to pay for abortions, so why deny access to some by hold funding of vital services for all (like breast cancer screening) hostage? It’s easy to see through you

  4. Money spent towards an aggressive campaign to educate women on availabiity of the wide variety of 21st century birth control,how to use it,obtain it & prevent STDs would be a significant step to truly empower all women. Low income women should be able to seek birth control without any barriers to cost. It can be done.

  5. When is it ever a good idea to withhold important information? Let Planned Parenthood professionals do their jobs and provide and explain all viable options. An informed patient is one who can make the best decision for themselves. Sheesh! I’ll continue to support PP with my donations. They do good in this world.

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