Planned Parenthood defies Trump's Title X gag rule

‘Our doors are open,’ says Julie Lynn, ‘and we’re here for our patients’

Julie Lynn of Planned Parenthood of Illinois speaks at a news conference in opposition to the Trump Title X gag rule earlier this year. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Julie Lynn of Planned Parenthood of Illinois speaks at a news conference in opposition to the Trump Title X gag rule earlier this year. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is rejecting federal Title X health grants rather than comply with a Trump administration gag rule it calls “unethical” in treating patients.

A court ruled last week that the rule could go through prohibiting Title X funding recipients from even discussing abortion with a patient, and the Trump administration announced Monday it would be implementing the rule.

“Our doors are open,” said Julie Lynn, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, “and we’re here for our patients.

“We have ethical, medical standards that we are going to continue to uphold,” she added, “and the gag rule is completely and totally unethical.”

Lynn called the gag rule unethical because it forbids a doctor from discussing the entire range of health care with a patient. “The entire range includes information,” she said. “Part of what the gag rule does is it forces doctors to lie to their patients about their care. And that’s something that Planned Parenthood would never do.”

President Trump first boasted about imposing the gag rule just over a year ago in a speech to an anti-abortion organization.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Planned Parenthood of Illinois received $2.5 million over the previous 18 months ending in March, and was slated to accept another $3.5 million in Title X funding over the next three years.

Lynn said she couldn’t pin down exactly how much the agency is turning down by dropping out of the Title X program, “but I will say that we’ve been planning for this and many other horrible rules that the administration has been putting in place since Day One.” Planned Parenthood’s contigency plans include “emergency funds,” she added, “but none of those funds will be able to supplement what the Title X grant is.”

Planned Parenthood has 17 health centers statewide — about 18 percent of the Title X sites in Illinois — but it handles more than 40 percent of the state’s patients under the program, including six counties in central Illinois where it’s been the only Title X health provider. “We’re going to continue to see patients,” Lynn emphasized, “and we’re going to continue to offer care to anyone who needs it.”

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined the suit opposing the gag rule, and Illinois congressional Democrats spoke out against it earlier this year.

Title X was created by the Nixon administration in 1970 specifically to give all U.S. residents access to family planning, regardless of their income, and according to Lynn it serves about 4 million people nationally.

“The administration is attacking that care, and it’s attacking people,” she said.

“Patients are freaked out right now. They don’t know what’s happening with health care,” Lynn added. Trump has also taken several shots in Congress at repealing the Affordable Care Act — unsuccessfully — and has now joined a Texas lawsuit in an attempt to cripple the program commonly known as Obamacare in a suit opposed by Raoul and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

“Patients just want to be healthy and stay healthy with what they need,” Lynn said, “and this administration is attacking it at every single level.”

Lynn said Planned Parenthood is not expecting its donors to pick up the slack with the lost Title X funding. “Our supporters are always supporting us, and we’re extremely grateful to them,” she said. “But these private donations will never, ever be able to replace the critical funding that is Title X.”