SALT LAKE CITY – Planned Parenthood clinics in several states are charging new fees, tapping financial reserves, intensifying fundraising and warning of more unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases after its decision to quit a $260 million federal family planning program in an abortion dispute with the Trump administration.
The fallout is especially intense in Utah, where Planned Parenthood has been the only provider participating in the nearly 50-year-old Title X family planning program and will now lose about $2 million yearly in federal funds that helped 39,000 mostly low-income, uninsured people. It plans to maintain its services — which include contraception, STD testing and cancer screening — but is considering charging a small co-pay for patients who used to get care for free.
Planned Parenthood in Minnesota is in a similar situation, serving about 90% of the state's Title X patients, and plans to start charging fees due to the loss of $2.6 million in annual funding.
The organization is concerned about the spread of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
"We believe there will be a public health crisis created by this denial of care," said Sarah Stoesz, the Minnesota-based president of Planned Parenthood North Central States. "It's a very sad day for the country."
Planned Parenthood and several other providers withdrew from the program this week rather than comply with a newly implemented rule prohibiting participating clinics from referring women for abortions.
Planned Parenthood said it could not abide by the abortion-referral rules because it says they would make it impossible for doctors to do their jobs.
Mindy Dotson, a single mother in Utah, started going to Planned Parenthood as doctors' bills for treating recurring yeast infections mounted. The services became even more important when she gave up her employer-sponsored health insurance because she couldn't afford the $500 monthly bill.
She is unsure what she'd do if the family planning services she receives were to stop.
"It would put me in a very dangerous position," said Dotson, who works as an executive assistant for an accounting and consulting firm. "It covers so many things: STD testing, emergency contraception, birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings … you name it, they have treated me for it."
Planned Parenthood said it's dedicated to maintaining its existing services in Utah, but CEO Karrie Galloway acknowledged it won't be easy and could cause some "pain on all sides."