Maryland Lawmakers Choose Planned Parenthood over Federal Family Planning Dollars

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 25: Pro-choice activists, politicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood gather for a news conference and demonstration at City Hall against the Trump administrations title X rule change on February 25, 2019 in New York City. The proposed final rule for the Title X …
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DR. SUSAN BERRY

Maryland may become the first state to retaliate against a new Trump administration rule governing family planning by ending the state’s participation in the federal grant program known as Title X.

Maryland lawmakers in the state House passed a bill Saturday that would allow the state to refuse federal family planning funds and, instead, fund its own family planning program that props up Planned Parenthood and other abortion vendors that provide and refer for abortions.

According to the Baltimore Sun, if the state’s health department does not accept federal family planning dollars, the state would have to fund its own program at the same level as the previous fiscal year.

Maryland is also one of 21 states that have sued the Trump administration over the new rule.

Robyn Elliott, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Maryland, told ThinkProgress that refusing to fund centers that provide abortion is the equivalent of accepting substandard care.

“This is really about equity across Maryland,” Elliott said. “Maryland has worked for many years to ensure everyone has access to a broad range of evidence-based contraception. … Why would we leave a part of Maryland out in terms of having access to the same high standard of care?”

However, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said the new Trump rule is “the kind of policy change that millennials, the nation’s largest voting bloc, support.”

“Healthcare dollars should fund real, full-service medical care, not abortion vendors,” she said, adding that the rule “will redirect some taxpayer resources away from abortion vendors like Planned Parenthood, making more than half-a-billion from us all.”

“This is a life-saving policy change, as abortion vendors have used these family planning resources to underwrite their deadly enterprise,” Hawkins said.

In February, the Trump administration released the new rule that bans federal taxpayer funds for family planning centers that also provide or refer for abortions, a regulation that creates a clear distinction between abortion and family planning.

As the Associated Press (AP) reported, Planned Parenthood itself has said it will voluntarily leave the Title X program if the Trump administration’s rule is implemented, giving up about $60 million annually rather than give in to the new restrictions.

The new regulation reinstates President Ronald Reagan’s “Protect Life Rule,” which bars the “co-location” of federally funded family planning clinics with abortion clinics.

As a result of the finalized rule, Planned Parenthood and other abortion vendors who wish to continue to receive Title X family planning funds would have to choose between ending their abortion services from all locations that receive the federal funding or moving those abortion services offsite to an entirely different location.

According to AP, Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, said the abortion vendor — even without Title X funds — would continue to offer its full array of services although birth control costs would not be as economical.

However, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, observed women in need can receive family planning services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC), which outnumber abortion centers 20 to one.

“At FQHCs women benefit from better regulatory oversight, a wider range of services, and more life-affirming options,” she said. “The new Title X regulations are a win-win for all Americans.”

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