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Planned Parenthood to withdraw from Title X starting Monday

What does this mean for 53,000 Minnesotans who rely on Planned Parenthood for low-cost care?
Credit: David Porter/KARE

ST PAUL, Minn. — Starting next Monday, things are going to be different for Planned Parenthood. The bottom line is that the nation-wide network of clinics will be losing about 60 million dollars in federal funding. 

No, they aren't closing, but people walking into through its doors will see changes.

The federal funding pool that Planned Parenthood is withdrawing from starting Monday is called Title X. Title X's history dates back to Republican President Richard Nixon.

"It was passed in 1970, signed by Richard Nixon," CEO and President of Planned Parenthood North Central States Sarah Stoesz said. "Key sponsors of the act was Prescott Bush-- the father of the first President Bush."

Stoesz said the grant was dedicated to helping low-income Americans with family planning.

"The premise is if somebody needs birth control and is unable to pay for birth control, that making it available to them is good for that person but also good for our whole community," Stoesz said. 

Fast forward to now in 2019, the Republican party has changed since the 70's. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence want to enforce the "gag rule."

"Providers cannot answer a question at all if a woman comes in and has a pregnancy test and she say, 'can you tell me where I can go to get an abortion?' the provider would have to say no," Stoesz explained, defining the "gag rule."

Meaning if Planned Parenthood were to keep receiving Title X money, they won't be able to talk about abortion options at all with anyone. But this is where it gets confusing. Title X money was never used for abortions, ever.

"It's illegal, it doesn't happen," Stoesz said. "We have 50 years almost of audits to prove that we have never used any Title X or any other federal money to pay for abortions. And yet abortion is somehow being linked unfortunately to the Title X program."

So with the impending gag rule, Planned Parenthood was left with two choices. Never speak of abortions come Monday, or leave Title X. They picked the latter. 

For Minnesota, without the approximately three million dollars from Title X, Stoesz said around 53,000 Minnesotans could lose access to care that 17 Planned Parenthood and Delegate clinics provide in Greater Minnesota.

Sure, Planned Parenthood has donors, but Stoesz said they alone can't make up what the federal grant funds.

"We have a lot of donors we do," she said. "That's because majority of the people in this country support us. However, donors cannot make up the difference in funding that is going to be lost."

Stoesz said despite this, their doors will be open on Monday, August 19. She added they will work to accommodate everyone who walks in.

"We will no longer be able to provide the same level of free care that we have been providing," Stoesz said. "But we are going to make every effort to accommodate their income limitations and help them with their fees."