The Trump administration announced on Friday that they have set a timetable for enforcement of a new regulation that bars federally funded clinics from referring women for abortions.
This regulation will impact the Title X Family Planning program that runs through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Notice has been sent to program participants that they must be in compliance with the change by September 18 and must submit plans on how they intend to comply by August 19.
HHS issued a release addressing the rule change, stating:
Given the prohibition on abortion as a method of family planning under the Title X statute, Title X providers are prohibited under the Final Rule from referring for abortion as a method of family planning. This does not preclude provision of medically necessary information. Physicians providing Title X services are permitted, but not required, to provide nondirective counseling on abortion.
Changes to this program are not without objection. Planned Parenthood is both a program participant and a major abortion provider, and the organization is threatening to withdraw. The HHS statement also addressed this, commenting:
To the extent that Planned Parenthood claims that it must make burdensome changes to comply with the Final Rule, it is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services to clients in need of these services. Like all Title X providers, Planned Parenthood has the option to comply with the 2019 Title X Final Rule, which faithfully implement the statutes, and continue to receive federal funding.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco is scheduled to take up a lawsuit filed in an effort to block the rule from being implemented. Oral arguments are slated for September 23, just a few days after clinics are expected to be in compliance with the change.
HHS says that so far it has received no official notice from providers who are planning to drop out. The department will work individually with clinics who are making “good faith” efforts to comply.
Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0