Diane Bernard, Public News Service – MD
BALTIMORE – Planned Parenthood’s decision to withdraw from a federal health funding program this week will not disrupt services for Marylanders who use the organization for family planning and health care.
The reproductive health group left the program on Monday after the Trump administration’s Title X abortion clinic referral restriction went into effect last week.
Karen Nelson, president of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, says the state has passed laws that provide its own money for patients who need to rely on supplemental funding at clinics.
“Planned Parenthood believes, and the majority of Americans believe, that discussions in an exam room should be between the health care provider and the patient and that the government and funders should not be involved in that,” Nelson states.
Abortion opponents say Title X has been used to indirectly subsidize Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in the United States.
In 2017, Maryland was the first state in the nation to pass legislation to counter the Trump administration’s attempts to restrict abortion and defund Planned Parenthood.
The law provides supplemental funding if a family planning clinic is defunded.
Nelson says that law was strengthened this year when lawmakers agreed to reject Title X funding altogether if clinics can’t make abortion referrals, and provides money to make up for that funding loss.
“What they really wanted to do is make sure that all family planning providers would be providing accurate medical care and that there would be no physician and no health care provider who would be hamstrung and not be able to discuss openly options with their patients,” she states.
Maryland’s Title X clinics serve more than 67,000 female contraceptive clients, according to 2015 data from the Guttmacher Institute.
Nelson says approximately 25,000 patients who use the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics receive reproductive health services on a sliding scale through Title X.