Rhode Island health centers received more than $700,000 dollars in federal funds to provide family planning services to low income patients for the year starting September 2018. That Title X funding could now be compromised by regulations against counseling patients on abortions, but some providers say services will continue anyway.
The Trump Administration said earlier this week it would begin enforcing a new rule banning Title X grant recipients from discussing abortions with their patients. That’s after a federal appeals court ruled against temporary injunctions to block the rule while legal challenges play out.
The Trump Administration has yet to release clear guidelines on the revised rule, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health, although those guidelines are expected to be released as soon as next week.In the meantime some providers are opting to not use Title X funds, said Kafi Rouse, a representative for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.
“We will not stop offering these services. With or without Title X we will continue to counsel for abortion, offer abortion. We will continue to do STD and STI testing and cancer screening.”
Title X funds make up 5 percent of the organization’s revenue, coming in at more than $2 million annually. Planned Parenthood of Southern New England uses that funding to subsidize sexual health screenings and family planning services to more than 42,000 low income clients in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Existing rules prohibited Title X fund for being used to perform abortions.
“The people who are most impacted by the loss of Title X are disproportionately people of color and people in the LGBTQ communities,” Rouse commented. “These are our most vulnerable communities, who will face another barrier to health care.”
For now, Rouse said the organization has stopped using the funds, while legal battles continue over the so called “gag rule”. Instead the organization is using emergency funds to cover family planning services for low income clients.
If that money runs out, Rouse added, “We have donors who have said, you’re too important to close. We’re not gonna let that happen. And if the time comes we will reach out to them and say we need you to keep our doors open.”