SEATTLE -- Planned Parenthood says it won't comply with a Trump administration rule that bars taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.
Jacqueline Ayers, the organization's top lobbyist, said Tuesday that Planned Parenthood clinics will stop accepting federal money as they press Congress and the courts to reverse the administration's new requirement.
Planned Parenthood plans to tap emergency funding, but the organization is not sure how long that can last. Ayers said Planned Parenthood believes it is wrong for health care providers to withhold information from patients.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services informed clinics Monday that it will begin enforcing the ban on abortion referrals, as well as a requirement that clinics maintain separate facilities to provide abortions.
Title X has been around for five decades. It provides federal funding to give affordable birth control and reproductive health care to people with low income. It has never been about paying for abortions, but instead supplements birth control, wellness exams, cervical and breast cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases.
About 4 million people get health care through Title X in this country. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office has said the changes will threaten health care access for about 80,000 people in Washington state.
Even though the money isn't used for abortions, some people against abortions argue that any federal money given to providers like Planned Parenthood just free up other sources of money so they can afford to perform abortions.
"I think [the new rules] are unconscionable," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands. "It's obviously a political sop to the Trump base, they have wanted to defund Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately they take a hit at the nation's family planning program and if your real concern is that you're worried people might choose to get abortions in the event of an unintended pregnancy, making it imposible for people to get contraception is really the stupidest possible thing you can do."
The new rules indicate that if a provider accepts Title X funding and performs abortions, it has to take place in a separate facility. Doctors also cannot refer patients to abortion providers, so if a patient tells a doctor she wants an abortion, that doctor can't tell the patient where to go.
Critics are calling it a gag rule and say it's medically unethical to keep doctors from giving patients all of their options.
The changes are not a done deal: The state of Washington and others are actively suing the Trump administration over it.
Initially, a judge in Washington stopped the rules from going into effect during the court battle, but that injunction has since been overturned and that's why the Trump administration can now move forward with these rules while it plays out in court.