The federal government has stripped funding for North Carolina Planned Parenthood under the Title X grant program for 2019, the organization said Friday, putting reproductive health care at risk for thousands in the state. The funding cuts come amid a federal legal battle over a proposed gag rule that would further cut funding for organizations offering abortions.
Abortions make up just 3.4 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood, which also offers birth control, screenings for cervical cancer and tests for sexually transmitted diseases–ensuring millions of low-income women have access to vital reproductive health care.
It was not immediately clear how much funding was cut (Planned Parenthood representatives did not immediately respond to the INDY’s request for comment). However, North Carolina Planned Parenthood was not included in a list of grant recipients on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said funding is instead being awarded to “entities that do not provide evidence-based care,” including $1.7 million to Obria Group, a California clinic that does not provide contraceptives.
In addition to North Carolina, the cuts will affect Planned Parenthood services in Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia. Worse still, the organization said, the budget proposed for fiscal year 2020 would force Planned Parenthood to stop serving patients in Title X altogether, “even though Planned Parenthood health centers serve 41 percent of the four million patients who depend on Title X health centers.”
The cuts come weeks before a new federal “gag” rule was supposed to go into effect to block Planned Parenthood from referring low-income patients for abortions in order to qualify for Title X funds. Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association have filed a lawsuit to fight the change, claiming it violates patients rights and puts the reproductive healthcare of millions of women women at risk.