A decision by Planned Parenthood on Monday to withdraw from the federal program Title X, which granted the agency nearly $60 million annually, is cause for concern, said Saskia Thomson, vice president of development and marketing of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County. It will affect the agency’s centers in Glen Cove, Massapequa and Hempstead, but at this point it’s unclear to what extent.
“We allow for low-income and the uninsured to have family planning here,” Thomson said. “The majority of people who come to Planned Parenthood in Glen Cove have been assessing their care from Title X, but they don’t know it.”
Most of the services the center in Glen Cove provides are for birth control and testing for sexually transmitted infections and treatments, Thomson said. It also offers a full range of reproductive health care, HIV testing and cancer screenings. But the Planned Parenthood in Glen Cove also offers medical abortions by way of medication, which means it is no longer eligible for Title X funding unless it performs the abortions in a separate facility, which it would be unable to refer its patients to.
According to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Title X, enacted in 1970, “is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.”
The Trump administration introduced new rules to Title X in February, stripping federal funding from reproductive health providers that perform abortions or offer abortion referrals.
Thomson said that Planned Parenthood had to pull out of Title X. “We are not going to lie to our patients,” she said. “The government is asking us to withhold information.”
Abortion is legal in the country, she reasoned, and patients have the right to the procedure.
“Our doors will stay open, and we will not turn anyone away, but it’s getting harder,” Thomson admitted.
Marie Coyle, of Glen Cove, said she supports the changes to Title X.
“I think abortion is so wrong,” she said. “I equate it to exterminating a generation. My belief is that children are gifts from God, and I can’t wrap my head around their destruction.”
Planned Parenthood, she said, does not address the psychological damage that women suffer after they have had an abortion, a decision that she said is usually made while under stress.
And although Coyle said she knows that Planned Parenthood provides other services, she believes it has one main objective. “Planned Parenthood’s goal will always be about abortions,” she said. “That’s their money.”
Planned Parenthood has had conversations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ask for help, Thomson said. With his support, she said, she hopes the state will help with the agency’s financial burden. “But we don’t know how it will be managed,” Thomson said. “In the meantime, we are fighting this in court.”
Losing federal funding will make a difference in stopping Planned Parenthood, Coyle insisted. “The more Planned Parenthoods that close down, the better,” she said.
But Thomson said that people had been calling in recent days to offer their support, financial and otherwise. “We need donations more now than ever before,” she said. “This is an attack on reproductive health nationwide.”