In late February, the Trump administration dropped a new rule that has alarmed doctors’ groups and brought conservatives closer to achieving their long quest to defund Planned Parenthood.
Clinics that receive funds from the federal family-planning grant program Title X will no longer be able to perform abortions in the same space where they see other patients. Abortion and other health-care services will be required to be physically and financially separate entities. Title X participants will also no longer be able to refer patients to abortion providers, though they can mention abortion to their patients.
About 20 percent of Title X providers would potentially have to renovate their clinics to meet the new guidelines, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. It will likely cost each of these providers $20,000 to $40,000 to come into compliance with the physical-separation element of the new rule.
The move is seen as a blow to Planned Parenthood, which operates about 40 percent of the 4,000 Title X clinics in the country. In the past, restrictions on state or federal funding for the family-planning organization have caused clinics to shut down. Such a measure might conjure images of scores of Planned Parenthood clinics suddenly closing their doors. But the impacts of the rule are likely to be more subtle, and to mostly affect poor women’s access to medical services unrelated to abortions. (The rule won’t go into effect for at least 60 days, and it might be legally blocked altogether. Several states and organizations have already said they will sue.)