Clinics choose defiance of Trump abortion rule over helping patients

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Demonstrators gather outside of the Supreme Court hours before President Trump chooses his Supreme Court Justice nominee to replace Justice Kennedy. Camille Fine, USA TODAY

Hundreds of health clinics have spurned a new Trump administration rule against referring patients to abortion services … and have lost their funding. The refusal to comply puts numerous other women’s health care services at risk for low-income female patients.

Power to Decide, an unplanned pregnancy-prevention organization, estimated In a new report that 876 clinics nationwide lost Title X funding after recipients refused to comply with the rule.

The clinic staffs’ refusal and subsequent loss of funding could prevent low-income women from finding affordable reproductive health care, the organization said, including cancer screenings and STD testing. Some women have gone without health services because of resulting higher costs, the report said.

Paloma Zuleta, director of media relations at Power to Decide, told NBC that clinic changes will especially affect low-income women of color.

Instituted nearly half a century ago, Title X serves patients who are poor or lack health insurance by distributing $260 million in family planning grants annually. The program, which covers screenings and annual exams, does not fund abortions.

Five states now lack Title X clinics, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Power to Decide. Program recipients in Maine, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington all withdrew, saying the Trump administration rule would restrict patients’ ability to get an abortion and abortion counseling.

Planned Parenthood, which served 40 percent of all Title X patients before rejecting the funding in August, was the sole grantee in Utah. Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, previously told USA TODAY that Utah patients may see longer wait times or need to drive hundreds of miles for services.

“It will simply be impossible for other health centers to fill the gap,” Johnson said.

In an effort to fill the void, the Office of Population Affairs gave $33.6 million in supplemental funding to remaining Title X participants. A Kaiser Family Foundation report found the supplemental funding has not made up for the losses in 14 states, however.

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