Planned Parenthood withdraws from federal grant program over new abortion guidelines


Planned Parenthood marches with their banner at the Capital City Pride Parade.

Jake Webster

Planned Parenthood finds itself in a battle with Republicans as President Donald Trump’s administration implements new guidelines on abortion.

The federal Title X family planning program’s rules recently implemented by the Trump administration prohibits grantees—such as Planned Parenthood—from providing, or referring patients to, abortion services with exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies. This is known as a gag rule.

Due to the new regulations, Planned Parenthood is withdrawing from Title X.

Title X provides funding for family planning and preventive reproductive health care, including birth control and other contraceptives, as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Mack Shelley, Iowa State professor and chair of the political science department, said “pretty much every” Republican administration since President Ronald Reagan has “taken shots” at abortion rights, in order to “gin-up” support among the party’s conservative base.

“Title X funding didn’t previously have a gag-rule attached … as a consequence of the gag rule, Planned Parenthood is probably going to have to shut down clinics or [decrease] services,” Shelley said. “In Iowa and most of the country, [attacking abortion rights has] been very effective [in increasing support for Republicans].”

In a statement, Planned Parenthood called the Trump administration’s move “unethical” and “dangerous.” The acting president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Alexis McGill Johnson, said in a press release Planned Parenthood “will never” give up on its patients.

“This reality will hit hardest people struggling to make ends meet—including those people in rural areas and communities of color,” McGill Johnson said. “We believe that the Trump administration is doing this as an attack on reproductive health care and to keep providers like Planned Parenthood from serving our patients.”

This move from the Trump administration comes in the wake of actions at the state level in Iowa and around the country which would have limited the ability of Planned Parenthood to provide services.

“[Gov.] Kim Reynolds, and practically every other major Republican running for [state office] adheres to a pretty rigidly anti-abortion approach,” Shelley said.

A law signed by Reynolds in May would have blocked Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortion access from receiving grants related to sex education, though an injunction against the law was issued by the Polk County District Court.