Sohn: Help Planned Parenthood stand for choice

Sohn: Help Planned Parenthood stand for choice

August 21st, 2019 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

FILE - In this May 30, 2019, file photo, abortion-rights supporters stand on both sides of a street near the Gateway Arch as they take part in a protest in favor of reproductive rights in St. Louis. The Trump administration implemented a new rule for the federal family planning program known as Title X. Planned Parenthood, long a target of religious conservatives because of its role as the leading U.S. abortion provider, quit the program rather than comply with the new rule that prohibits clinics from referring women for abortions. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Photo by Jeff Roberson

Planned Parenthood's decision to walk away from about $60 million in annual Title X federal funding for low-income women's reproductive health care is a case study in how extreme the politics of abortion have become.

The nearly 50-year-old Title X program has been called the unsung hero of American public health, but on Monday Planned Parenthood, which serves about 40 percent of Title X patients in America, felt compelled to turn down the money rather than submit to cruel new rules.

Already, Planned Parenthood had to keep those funds separate from its work to help women obtain abortions. But the Trump administration's new family planning rule requires any facility that uses the Title X funding in any way to essentially pretend abortion or any referral to it is not legal.

The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports reproductive rights, found that Title X clinics helped prevent more than 822,000 unintended pregnancies in 2015. The institute estimates that for every dollar the federal government spends on family planning, it saves more than $7. In 2017, Title X clinics served more than four million women, 42 percent of them uninsured.

Clearly the sides are set: The Trump administration is openly dedicated to knee-capping health care providers that perform abortions, and Planned Parenthood was its biggest target. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, would rather take a huge financial hit and wage a high-profile fight with the Trump administration than change its practices.

The Atlantic put it well: "In this political environment, any money or policy that comes close to touching the abortion issue is fair game for war, no matter how many people lose access to health-care services as a result."

Planned Parenthood has nicknamed the new Trump guidelines a "gag rule," arguing that it would stop doctors from providing medical information to their patients. "Our patients come to us because they expect the best information and health care available," said Planned Parenthood's acting president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, in a recent press call. "The gag rule would make it impossible for us to uphold that commitment. At Planned Parenthood, we refuse to cower to the Trump-Pence administration."

This comes as Republicans are increasingly targeting Roe v. Wade in the courts and in state governments. Red states such as Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are in a race to the bottom to pass the most extreme anti-abortion laws in the nation.

Make no mistake: Trump's new family planning rule takes no prisoners. It threatens all women and all access to contraception and other health care for poor women — all in the name of gutting Roe v. Wade.

On the upside, withdrawing from Title X will not deprive Planned Parenthood of all government funding, a longtime goal of many conservatives. Planned Parenthood's 2017-18 annual report showed the organization received about $500 million from Medicaid, the joint federal and state health care program for low income people.

The lost $60 million in Title X funds? That's not an impossible amount of money to raise from the millions of people who believe a woman should have control over her body. Think of it this way: $60 from a million people, or $30 from two million. See how to help at

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315