Updated at 6:38 p.m. ET
The Trump administration is giving Title X recipients more time to comply with new regulations that prohibit organizations that receive federal grants from referring patients for abortion.
Under the new rules, any organization that provides or refers patients for abortions is ineligible for Title X funding.
A document from the Department of Health and Human Services lays out a timeline for organizations to comply. They must submit written assurance by Aug. 19 that they do not provide abortion or include abortion as a method of family planning. HHS said the government "does not intend to bring enforcement actions" against clinics that are making "good-faith efforts to comply," according to The Associated Press.
The HHS said last week that it would begin enforcing the new rules and requiring compliance immediately.
The department has faced a series of legal challenges that, for now, have left the rules in place, but some clinics are suing to block the abortion restrictions. The regulations have prompted at least two organizations — Planned Parenthood and Maine Family Planning — to stop using Title X funding and dip into reserves instead.
NPR's Sarah McCammon reported that Planned Parenthood is refusing to comply with what critics call a "gag rule."
"It is unethical and dangerous to require health care providers to withhold important information from patients," Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of Government Relations & Public Policy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said. "During this period of limbo while we wait for the court to rule, our affiliates are not using federal Title X funds to provide care. We are continuing to fight this illegal rule in court and to provide care to all people — no matter what."
Ayers added, "It's time for Congress to act, and save birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment for the four million people who rely on our country's program for affordable birth control."
George Hill, president and CEO of Maine Family Planning, told McCammon that at least 25% of the organization's funding comes from Title X, and a total of 50 sites across Maine could be affected by the new regulations.
He said Maine Family Planning provides abortions using private funds. For other services normally funded by Title X, Hill said the group will tap into reserves and explore other potential funding sources.
"We cannot keep dancing back and forth with HHS — it's not fair to our patients, our providers, or our subrecipients," Hill said. "We are moving forward with our withdrawal and will consider re-applying for federal funding if and when the Gag Rule is completely off the table."
Federal funding for abortion is already illegal unless the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or if it is determined to endanger the woman's life. Previously clinics could refer women who wanted to end their pregnancies to abortion providers.
The Title X program pays for reproductive health care, such as contraception and screenings, for about 4 million low-income people.
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