Washington state is the latest state to exit the federal family planning program, after refusing to comply with the new abortion restrictions implemented by the Trump administration. New rules stipulate that federally funded clinics cannot obtain funding if they refer women to abortion providers.
The Washington Department of Health notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday of its decision, as it refused to comply with the ruling of not referring women for abortions. “The State of Washington is gravely disappointed in HHS’s deliberate decision to force us and many other long-standing grantees out of the Title X program,” wrote two officials, as first reported by Politico.
“These new rules require our providers to deprive their patients of the information and services they need to make and carry out fully informed decisions about their reproductive health.”
Washington is suing over the new rules, but wanted to stay in the program and not access the funding, while the court case is in progress, in case withdrawing meant they couldn’t access future funding. “HHS rejected our plan, deemed us out of compliance, placed our award on cash restriction, and delivered an ultimatum to implement its harmful and illegal new rules, leave the Title X program, or be terminated under threat of losing future federal funding,” the state officials wrote in the letter.
Planned Parenthood pulled out of the $260-million federal family planning program called Title X on Monday Aug.18, after refusing to comply with the abortion ruling the Trump administration has instigated for those who receive the funding. Clinics in the program are restricted from referring women to abortion providers, except in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergency.
In a statement to NPR on Aug. 15, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials said, “Every grantee had the choice to accept the grant and comply with the program’s regulations or not accept the grant if they did not want to comply. Some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions—having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it—and they are abandoning their obligations to serve their patients under the program.”
By withdrawing from Title X, low-income earners in the United States who attend the more than 400 Planned Parenthood clinics will be without access to federally funded health care for birth control and other health issues. “We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” said Planned Parenthood acting President Alexis McGill Johnson, as reported by Politico. “When you have an unethical rule that is asking us to limit what our providers can tell our patients, then it becomes really important for us to not agree to be in the program.”
Democrats unanimously have sided with Planned Parenthood, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asking the Senate to pass a bill blocking the Title X rule. “With their unethical Title X gag rule, the Trump Admin is forcing Planned Parenthood grantees out of the program & ending access to birth control & reproductive health care for women w/ nowhere else to turn. The House has passed legislation to block this rule, the Senate must now do the same,” she tweeted from @Nancy Pelosi on Aug. 19.
Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law in January that legalizes abortion up until birth in many cases. He even directed the One World Trade Center and other monuments to be lit up in pink to celebrate the passage of the Reproductive Health Act. The Democratic governor called it “a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values.”
Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger penned an open letter to Cuomo in the Evangelist, slamming the governor’s actions. “Your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church,” he said, as he questioned Cuomo’s Catholic faith.
“Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core. By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret,” he added.