When Planned Parenthood decided last week to withdraw from a federal family planning program that complied with a Trump-era “gag rule” barring abortion referrals, the organization knew that low-income patients would face negative repercussions. And in the days since, that’s proven true: low income patients have been blindsided by exorbitant fees and a reduction of services. Meanwhile, there’s a looming threat that community mainstays may vanish now that Planned Parenthood has opted out of the $260 million program.
The Washington Post reported the impact that Planned Parenthood’s decision has already made on people who rely on Planned Parenthood in a variety of American cities. The Title X program provided a slew of health services like birth control and STD screening for free or discounted prices for approximately 1.6 million women, and while the Post noted that while those living in states with backup funds will see little change in their care, “many others will face long delays, higher costs and possible clinic closures.”
For example, a woman who found out her birth control was far more expensive than usual:
On Wednesday, Jessica DeLong walked into the Planned Parenthood in Minneapolis for birth control and was told she’d have to pay $200 instead of her usual $30 sliding scale fee. She didn’t have it, and told the clinic she’d come back next week after she got paid.
In Cleveland, a collaboration of Planned Parenthood and the Cleveland Health Department birthed a program in which an RV doubles as a mobile health unit, dispatched to the city’s poorest neighborhoods and providing free pregnancy testing, STD testing, HIV testing, and condoms. Its nine-year run may soon come to an end:
Destiny Woodson, an 18-year-old high school student who works part-time at Dunkin’, asked for some condoms.
When Woodson found out the HealthMobile might end its run because of the funding loss — its coordinator had already been made part-time last week — she was indignant.
“That’s not right, that’s not right at all,” she said.
Woodson’s friend, Ashanti Zeigler, 20, shifted her 1-year-old son Josiah in her arms as she lamented the lost funding. “I don’t like it,” Zeigler said. “Why take away something from people who can’t afford it? And why should Trump be able to tell women what we can do with our bodies?”
And then there’s this anecdote from Vienna, West Virginia, in which a woman is saving up for an IUD now that she can no longer rely on Planned Parenthood for her birth control:
[25-year-old Madeline] Gray, who is uninsured, has relied on Planned Parenthood since she was a teenager for annual exams, testing, and birth control. She had come in to get a vaginal ring used for birth control replaced, as she has done every month.
“I signed in, and they said, ‘We don’t have it. We just lost our Title X funding,’ ” she said. “And I knew that, but I thought that was going to be a slower process. I am putting my savings into an IUD instead.”
Planned Parenthood is doing what it can to smooth out this chaotic process. The Washington Post reports that in addition to increased fundraising attempts, they’re training employees to get eligible patients to sign up for Medicaid, figuring out financing plans, or referring them to other clinics. Ultimately, Planned Parenthood would have been unable to provide the quality of care they assure their patients if they abided by the Title X gag rule. But while this turmoil lands squarely on the Trump administration’s regressive shoulders, it’s dismaying that the most vulnerable are always the ones who must pay the highest consequence, even for the greater good. All the reliables lines of defense are crumbling, and the crisis-center vultures are ready (and Title X funded) to take advantage of it.