IL to defy Trump administration's abortion referral 'gag rule'

FILE- Carol Tobias president of National Right to Life speaks at the national convention before introducing featured speaker Gov. Rick Perry

"We will not let that stand in the state of Illinois", Pritzker said.

Governor J.B. Pritzker's announcement came a month after a federal appeals court cleared the way for the administration to cut off Title X subsidies of reproductive healthcare and family planning costs for low-income women at clinics that refer patients to abortion providers.

"Without reducing Title X funding by a dime, the Protect Life Rule simply draws a bright line between abortion and family planning, stopping abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from treating Title X as their private slush fund".

Instead, the Illinois Department of Public Health will provide state funding to the 28 local clinics that normally receive Title X money through the agency, making up for an estimated $2.4 million in federal dollars they otherwise stand to lose for the rest of the fiscal year, Pritzker said.

That funding already was prohibited from being used to pay for abortions, but abortion opponents have long complained that the money in effect subsidizes Planned Parenthood as a whole, including its abortion services. The program distributes about $260 million a year in grants to clinics, and those funds can not be used to pay for abortions.

HHS says Trump's final rule would help family planning clinics to "fully comply with the statutory program integrity requirements, thereby fulfilling the goal of Title X, so that more women and men can receive services that help them consider and achieve both their short-term and long-term family planning needs".

Planned Parenthood is declining $3.5 million in Title X funding. Title X is a $300 million federally funded program.

Under the federal rule, professionals at family planning clinics would also not be allowed to make referrals or discuss abortion services with patients, even if the patient brings up the subject.

Doris Segal Matsunaga, maternal child health director at Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Health Services, said while the $750,000 in state funding helps, it is not enough.

"This rule-change is an attempt to implement a statute that intends to not give money to programs that provide abortions", Bath said. She hopes to continue working with the Legislature in the next session to see if family planning services around the island can receive more funds.

Planned Parenthood operates 17 clinics in IL, said Julie Lynn, a spokeswoman for the state organization. I engaged those who identify as being pro-life, but who support safe, legal abortion access because they don't want women to die from back-alley abortions. "Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for those people who get care through Title X. We will not allow the federal government to censor our doctors and nurses and prevent them from doing their jobs".

Pritzker, a Democrat, said the state would forgo all Title X funding from the federal government while the Republican administration continues to impose its restriction - decried by critics as a "gag rule" created to silence doctor-patient communications about abortion options. The lawsuit argues the president's order is unconstitutional. Its Augusta office is the only one that offers surgical abortions, although every clinic across the state provides medical abortions.

Under the rule, facilities that provide family planning services as well as abortions would have to strictly separate finances and physical space. "And this isn't just about women, and it isn't just about contraception - it's cancer screenings, HIV testing and treatment, (sexually transmitted infections) testing and treatment, annual exams, all of these things".

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