Alaska’s Planned Parenthood chapter withdraws from federal family planning program

The Juneau Planned Parenthood facility in May 2018 (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)

Alaska’s chapter of Planned Parenthood announced Monday that it will leave a federal program that provides funding for family planning services to patients nationwide.

The announcement from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands came in response to new rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that bar health care providers from referring patients for abortion if they receive funding through Title X.

Title X was established in 1970 and is the only federal program dedicated to family planning. It serves an estimated 4 million people annually.

Planned Parenthood’s Alaska Director Jessica Cler said they serve more than 6,000 people in Alaska through Title X.

“We’re going to do everything we can to offer the same care to all of our patients, but we know that’s not sustainable,” Cler said.

The new rules also require abortions to be performed in a separate building from other health services, which Planned Parenthood says would be too expensive to follow.

In a statement, the regional organization said the changes to Title X act as a gag rule for health care providers and will restrict safe access to reproductive health care.

According to the organization, Alaska will be the hardest hit by this change since more than 70 percent of those who receive care through Title X in the state do so through Planned Parenthood. A quarter of those patients are also uninsured.

Planned Parenthood operates four health centers in Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Soldotna providing cancer screenings and routine checkups, in addition to birth control and reproductive health care.

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