The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has finalized sweeping changes to the federal Title X family planning program, pulling back funds from clinics that provide abortion counseling or that refer patients for abortion services, regardless of whether the money is used for other health care services.
Under the final rule, announced Feb. 22 by HHS, women’s health clinics are ineligible for Title X funding if they offer, promote, or support abortion as a method of family planning. Title X grants generally go to health centers that provide reproductive health care – such as STD-testing, cancer screenings, and contraception – to low-income families.
In a, HHS stated the final rule will provide for clear financial and physical separation between Title X and non-Title X activities, reduce confusion on the part of Title X clinics and the public about permissible Title X activities, and improve program transparency by requiring more complete reporting by grantees about their partnerships with referral agencies.
“The final rule ensures compliance with statutory program integrity provisions governing the program and, in particular, the statutory prohibition on funding programs where abortion is a method of family planning,” department officials said in a. “The final rule amends the Title X regulation, which had not been substantially updated in nearly 2 decades, and makes notable improvements designed to increase the number of patients served and improve the quality of their care.”
Lisa Hollier, MD, president for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said the final rule threatens the ability of women’s health care providers to deliver medically accurate and comprehensive reproductive health care and poses significant harms to women’s health.