Planned Parenthood could soon lose tens of millions of dollars in federal funding, but administrators say that the Eureka clinic — which is the area’s only abortion provider, in addition to providing a multitude of other medical services for thousands of people — shouldn’t be experiencing cutbacks any time soon.
Because of recent administrative changes enacted by the Trump Administration, Planned Parenthood has pulled out of the federal Title X program, resulting in a loss of tens of millions of dollars for their centers nationwide. Title X is part of the Public Health and Service Act of 1970, and its main focus is to provide family planning services to low-income people.
The new changes prohibit the use of Title X funding “in programs in which abortion is a method of family planning,” according to a Congressional Research Service report. Although it is illegal to use federal funds to pay for abortions, Planned Parenthood makes — and will continue to make — recommendations for abortion referrals.
Title X currently has a budget of $286.5 million and helped more than 4 million low-income people in 2017, according to a Congressional Research Service report. The report went on to state that Planned Parenthood only received 13 percent of the Title X funds in 2015, but provided services to 41 percent of all female Title X recipients.
Gloria Martinez, chief of staff for Planned Parenthood of Northern California, called the new changes to Title X a “gag rule” because of the limitations it places on doctors.
“We refuse to withhold crucial information from our patients and believe they should be able to make their own decisions about what is best for their lives, health and families,” Martinez told the Outpost. “The Title X program has been the nation’s only dedicated program for reproductive health care and affordable birth control for more than 50 years, and Planned Parenthood health centers have been proud to be Title X providers.”
Martinez said the local Planned Parenthood center in Eureka should not see any changes to the services they offer — neither should the 17 other centers in the Northern California region — but centers nationwide could experience some cuts to services. Services in Northern California will not be suddenly affected because of investments the state has made in MediCal and the Affordable Care Act expansion, which allows nearly 12 million Californians to have health insurance as of July 2018. California is also more independent when it comes to federal funding and does not rely on the federal government for funding low-income families as much as other states.
Planned Parenthood offers a variety of services that range from birth control and STD testing and treatment to cancer screenings and Pap smears. Martinez said in the past year the Eureka Planned Parenthood has had over 10,000 patients and provided more than 15,500 tests for STDs and HIV. She went on to say that California is experiencing an “epidemic” when it comes to syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, and “an overwhelming majority” of Planned Parenthood patients are at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
“We will continue to fight the gag rule in court,” Martinez said. “Our 18 centers will remain open and continue to provide affordable, high-quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care to anyone who needs — today, tomorrow and in the future.”