A sign is displayed at Planned Parenthood of Utah in Salt Lake City. The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah said it would join the federal Title X planning program after a 2019 Trump administration rule was overturned. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah will join Title X in receiving federal funding for family planning after it withdrew in 2019 due to a Trump administration rule imposed on the program.
The return comes after President Joe Biden overturned the 2019 rule that prohibited Title X recipients from referring patients for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies. The Title X program provides low-income women with contraceptives, STD screenings, and other services.
Prior to the nonprofit’s rule and removal, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah was the sole recipient of Title X for 35 years. Over the years, it has provided more than 37,000 people with reproductive health care and family planning services. When the provider pulled out of the program, it left service gaps not just statewide, but nationwide.
“Once the new rules were implemented in 2019, the program deflated to be perfectly honest. was a sad day for women and families in the United States,” said Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
Funding represented 16% of the organization’s revenue, according to the 2018 annual report of the organization. Leaving the Title X program was $2 million in funding that benefited 71% of its uninsured patients. Nationally, Planned Parenthood has served 40% of patients who obtain services through the Title X program.
The organization’s departure drew mixed reviews statewide.
“Planned Parenthood has made a choice that reflects its priorities,” Mary Taylor, president of Pro-Life Utah, said in an email to Deseret News at the time. “If Planned Parenthood’s allegiance to abortion outweighs their desire to help underprivileged women with real health care, there is no doubt in my mind that other clinics or organizations will step in to provide these services.”
While other states were able to find funding or apply for the grant through other programs, Utah was unable to access the funding, but not for lack of trying.
In 2020, the state legislature passed a law requiring the Utah Department of Health to apply for the Title X grant. The application included a request for a waiver that would exempt federal restrictions on minors requesting contraceptives. Utah state law requires that a parent or guardian receive notice before a health care provider can provide it.
The grant forced the department to adopt a new mindset toward direct services, said Lynne Nilson, director of maternal and child health at the Utah Department of Health. While researching and writing the grant application, the ministry observed where services were lacking or needed.
“There is a definite need for family planning services and contraceptive services among low-income families and there is definitely a need in rural areas – where you may not even have an OB/GYN in this community,” Nilson said. “You could call it, for lack of a better word, a contraceptive desert.”
The waiver was denied by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services due to the Age Discrimination Act, which prohibits age discrimination in federally funded programs and activities. health and social.
Under the age law, recipients may not exclude, deny, or limit services or otherwise discriminate against individuals on the basis of age that directly conflicts with Utah State Code. The dispute and rejection of the waiver led the Utah Department of Health to deny approximately $3 million in Title X funding.
“Family planning in Utah is tricky and it shouldn’t be,” Nilson said. “So that’s where the catch-22 genre falls.”
Without Title X funding to provide subsidized care, there was a gap in services and a drop in the number of patients accessing care, according to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
“If you’re a low-income woman, you may have to choose between food, rent, transportation, maybe a bit of entertainment in your life, or your health care. It’s so frustrating to think that for two years Utah has gone without these services for Utahans,” Galloway said.
She continued, “We know from the statistics that women of color, Indigenous people, marginalized people at every stage of life who need help have had to give up that help and be able to serve them at new, without any stigma, without any embarrassment to say ‘You don’t have 5 dollars?’ is a comforting feeling.”
Whether due to COVID-19 or lack of funding, the number of patients served has fallen from over 46,000 in 2018 to just under 42,000 in 2020. Patients served without insurance have fallen from 71% in 2018 to 60% in 2020, according to annual reports. .
Other notable declines between the two years include pap smears, testicular and breast exams, and contraceptive services.
At the time of the organization’s departure, Alexis McGill Johnson, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, said the lack of funding would have a significant impact on low-income women.
“It will simply be impossible for other health centers to fill the void,” said McGill Johnson. “Waiting times for appointments will skyrocket.”
The observed gaps in statistics could be a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of Title X funding, although clinics in Utah have remained open and operating during the pandemic. Specific data or statistics regarding the withdrawal of funding and impacts across the state were not extracted, according to Nilson.
“We have worked very diligently to ensure that the basic family planning services people need to live fulfilling lives are available,” Galloway said. “This just adds another wonderful aspect to mitigating the pandemic is that Planned Parenthood has once again subsidized ramifications-free services for women and their families.”
The return of federal funding for family planning is a point of celebration for both agencies.
“Here’s the bottom line, it’s really good to have the funding back in the state, whoever does it,” Nilson said.