Activists demonstrate in New York Feb. 25, 2019, against the Trump administration’s Title X rule change that would force medical providers receiving federal assistance to refuse to promote, refer for, perform or support abortion as a method of family planning.
Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty)

Unless a federal appeals court gives a hard pass when it comes to a “gag rule” imposed by the Trump administration regarding abortion, Planned Parenthood says it’ll be forced to abandon the low-income family planning program funded by federal dollars.

“We refuse to let the Trump administration bully us into withholding abortion information from our patients,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president and CEO, told The Root in a statement. “The gag rule is unethical and dangerous, and we will not subject our patients to it.”

As the Washington Post explains, Planned Parenthood had initially planned to just refuse federal monies but remain in the family planning program, known as Title X, and provide services without being subjected to the rule while its lawsuit challenging the directive made its way through the courts.

But a Department of Health and Human Services decision requiring “all participants in the program, known as Title X, to sign a pledge by Aug. 19, saying they would make a ‘good faith’ effort to comply with the rule” has forced Planned Parenthood’s hand.

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Thus, as the Post reports:

Planned Parenthood attorney Alan E. Schoenfeld wrote [the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit] that as a result and with “deep regret,” the grantees “now have no option but to withdraw from the Title X program” from which Planned Parenthood has participated in for decades.

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This means that starting Monday, barring a decision by the court, millions of low-income women may have to figure out what they’re doing for needed reproductive health services. Planned Parenthood says its centers serve 40 percent of the nation’s four million Title X patients.

New Trump administration rules bar health providers that accept Title X funds “from referring for abortion as a method of family planning,” the Post reports, a directive that Planned Parenthood and other providers deem a “gag rule.”

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“The Trump administration is targeting providers like Planned Parenthood in an attempt to end access to birth control and other reproductive health care,” McGill Johnson said. “Unless the 9th Circuit intervenes, this gag rule will destroy the Title X program—putting birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI [sexually transmitted infection] testing and treatment at risk for millions of people struggling to make ends meet.”

Planned Parenthood may not be off-base in feeling like the Trump administration is gunning for it. As the Post reports, HHS “singled out Planned Parenthood in an unusual criticism” in a statement meant to provide overall guidance about the new directive regarding abortion counseling:

“To the extent that Planned Parenthood claims that it must make burdensome changes to comply with the Final Rule, it is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services to clients in need of these services.”