After a judge approved a Trump administration rule change pertaining to which family planning clinics may receive Title X funding, Planned Parenthood in Vermont says it will lose funds amounting to $800,000.
Early in the week a federal rule change went into effect that blocks Title X funds from flowing to clinics that provide or even counsel abortions.
According to estimates by LifeNews.com, Planned Parenthood stands to lose close to $60 million nationwide. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England gets $1.5 million, or about 60 percent of its total financing, from Title X taxpayer money. Vermont with its 12 clinics — the most per capita in the nation — gets more than half that money, or about $800,000.
“There is a requirement that health care practitioners would have to withhold information from patients,” Lucy Leriche, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of New England, told True North. “It’s a direct violation of medical ethics. … It’s an ethical duty to give patients all of the information [when receiving health care].”
In addition to following the prohibition on recommending abortions, an abortion provider seeking Title X funds must physically separate its abortion services from family planning services such as free birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing.
Leriche said having to build new centers separate from their existing centers is not economical.
“To require us to build new centers … it’s kind of crazy and absurd,” he said. She added that a lot of their facilities are only open a few days a week, and it would be too much overhead to run new any facilities like that.
“To separate it out is definitely not financially feasible,” she said.
She added that there is a negative stigma to forcing patients to another location for abortion services.
Another requirement is that any money involving abortions must be completely separated from the rest of their budget. Leriche said this accounting aspect was never a problem.
Mary Beerworth, director of Vermont Right to Life, says Planned Parenthood clinics in New England and Vermont are on track to lose money, based on information she received from sources at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“[They] said they will not get the money,” Beerworth said. “It goes back to the U.S. Treasury if they can’t find someone else [to take it].”
In fact, there may not be any other health clinics in Vermont in line for the funds.
Kim Anderson, director of development and communications for the Community Health Centers of Burlington, told True North in a recent interview that even if the funds were up for grabs, her health centers will not pursue it.
“We don’t want to do anything that would restrict having conversations about the appropriateness of care for each individual,” she said.
When asked if taking Title X funds would prevent her organization from recommending abortion services to their clients — even though their facilities do not provide abortions — she said yes.
In Rutland, however, a non-abortion family planning clinic called First Step has opened, and its director says his clinic would look into the possibility of applying for funds.
“We certainly will try,” First Step director David Wilkinson said, adding that eligibility may require the clinic to provide services not currently offered — such as STD testing.
Beerworth said Vermont gives $300,000 annually to its Planned Parenthood network, and that the abortion provider may now seek more funds from Vermont taxpayers.
Planned Parenthood is actively opposing the rule change on social media, claiming that these cuts are going to hinder its ability to provide critical health services.
Beerworth says Planned Parenthood isn’t likely to change its ways to keep the money.
“They believe that abortion is just a method of family planning. That’s what they’ve demonstrated at the Statehouse as well last year,” she said. “That puts them out of compliance with the Title X rule, and they won’t change or restructure their business so that they can be in compliance. So they are actually not getting cut the funds, they are forfeiting the money.”