(CBS).– Planned Parenthood said that it will no longer accept funds from Title X, the marquee federal program dedicated to providing birth control to low-income women. A change to the program last year requires beneficiaries to comply with a so-called “gag order” on abortion services, something that Planned Parenthood said it isn’t willing to do.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Planned Parenthood’s new leader, Alexis McGill Johnson, announced that all the healthcare clinic’s affiliates would be sending letters to the Department of Health and Human Services today, formally announcing their resignation from Title X. She warned that without Planned Parenthood, low-income women in rural areas would struggle to find affordable birth control options.
“For too many people struggling to make ends meet, it may be that they may go without care,” Johnson said on the call.
Title X was created in 1970 to provide affordable reproductive care to women who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Last year, more than four million people relied on Title X for health care services, 41% of whom received services at Planned Parenthood, according to the health clinic.
Title X funds have never been authorized to pay for abortions. Instead, the money is used for wellness exams, STD and HIV screenings, birth control and contraceptive education, according to Planned Parenthood. Anti-abortion rights advocates argue that any money given to Planned Parenthood – even if it’s not used for abortions – frees up funding to be used for the procedure.
In an exclusive interview with CBS News in July, Johnson said that the organization would be fighting the changes in court – and was confident that they would win.
“We believe it is really critically important to stand up with our patients,” said Johnson, acting president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We are identifying all strategies – all hands on deck – to try to identify the best strategies in order to make sure we can sustain and keep our doors open for our patients no matter what.”
This is a developing story and will be updated