Oregon Pulls Out Of Federal Program For Reproductive Health Care

Oregon has pulled out of the federal Title X program that funds reproductive care, slamming the Trump administration for imposing new rules against abortions that “play politics” with the health of low-income women.

The amount of money at stake in the Title X program for Oregon is small – about $3 million a year, which is distributed to 106 health centers statewide. But the Trump administration’s insistence that recipients stop making abortion referrals and show they are financially separate from abortion providers has drawn the anger of Oregon health care advocates and supporters of abortion rights.

A group of states, including Oregon, is challenging the new federal requirement in court. In quitting Title X, Oregon joins a string of states and organizations that are exiting the program. Most notably, the national Planned Parenthood organization formally pulled out of Title X earlier this month. The group had been receiving about $60 million a year under Title X. Nationwide, Title X distributes about $300 million a year.

Oregon said it has not used Title X money since July 15 and would not use it as long as the new rules stand. Oregon had asked the federal government if the state could stay on as a Title X grantee under these conditions. But the federal government insisted the state agree to the new rules by Aug. 26 or it would be ousted from the program, the state said.

So Oregon bailed before it was kicked out and took some parting shots. The new rules are “unlawful, unethical and without merit,” wrote Lillian Shirley, head of Oregon’s public health division, to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The federal government “has provided no reasonable explanation for adopting these new regulations and instead is playing politics with the health and welfare of millions of low-income or uninsured individuals.”

Patrick Allen, head of the Oregon Health Authority, said the federal “gag rule” prevents providers from “fully informing Oregon women about their most personal reproductive choices.”

The new rules are favored by groups that oppose the use of federal money in connection with abortion. In its justification of the new rules, the federal government said it is eliminating “the requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral.” The new rule “protects Title X healthcare providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral,” the federal health agency said.

Oregon has received Title X money since 1970. The money goes to 35 agencies that have a total of 106 clinic sites. Recipients range from local public health authorities to federally qualified health centers, Planned Parenthood clinics and rural health centers, the Oregon Health Authority said.

The said it is filling the funding gap with surplus state money.

You can reach Christian Wihtol at [email protected].

 

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