This week, Planned Parenthood withdrew from federal Title X funding rather than comply with the Trump administration’s “gag rule” prohibiting Title X grantees from providing or referring patients for abortion services. Title X funding is mandated to focus on family planning and related preventive health services for patients who are low-income or uninsured. Two-thirds of patients who benefit from Title X funding are at or below the federal poverty line. Providers have already been forbidden from using federal funds to pay for abortions since 1976.
Planned Parenthood has been a controversial organization to many Americans since its beginnings in 1916. Planned Parenthood began their work when information about family planning and contraception were considered “obscene.” The founders of the first birth control clinic were arrested and convicted for disseminating contraception information. In the 1960s, family planning became a central element of the War on Poverty. Today family planning services include everything from couples counseling to reproductive health screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal services to contraception or pregnancy termination. Some Planned Parenthood clinic locations are able to provide a full range of family practice services. Planned Parenthood’s mission has always been to provide services for those in need regardless of income, national origin, or any other criteria.
Planned Parenthood has served up to 40% of Title X recipients, providing contraceptive care, cancer and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings, prenatal care, and other crucial health services. According to their 2017-2018 Annual Report Planned Parenthood was able to provide 296,310 breast exams and 274,145 pap tests, detecting cancer in 70,193 women as well as diagnosing 240,489 STIs after providing over 4 million screenings to men and women. Contrary to the claim that Planned Parenthood is an “industry of abortion,” the report states only 3.4% of the services provided in 2017 were abortion procedures.
After losing Title X funding, many patients are likely to lose access to services Planned Parenthood provides. For now, Planned Parenthood says it has “emergency funds” to cover services that were formerly paid for by Title X and the organization will fundraise to make sure that care does not suffer. However, low-income women who have relied on Planned Parenthood for screenings, birth control, and more, may face more limited options in the months ahead. Planned Parenthood has been the only Title X provider in Utah, and served up to 90% of Title X patients in Minnesota. It will be nearly impossible for other health centers to fill the gap being created, with patients in underserved states seeing longer wait times for appointments or going without care. Men and women seeking affordable family planning services might be forced to drive hundreds of miles for reproductive care. Abortion services will be largely unaffected by the change.
NeedyMeds has information on nearly 500 Planned Parenthood clinics. Search your zip code for locations in your area. Cancer screenings and STI testing assistance can be found in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database by searching for conditions that affect the men and women in our lives, as well as many that offer various forms of assistance for women seeking an abortion. For more resources, check our website at Needymeds.org or call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897 9am to 5pm Eastern Time Monday through Friday.