Maine Family Planning, (MFP), announced last week that after 50 years as Maine’s grantee for the Title X National Family Program, it will withdraw from the program rather than comply with the Trump-Pence Gag Rule.
Among other health services, MFP also provides abortion care at its 18 direct service sites throughout Maine. No federal money is used to provide abortion services.
The Gag Rule restricts how Title X health care providers can speak to their patients about abortion and requires strict, cost- prohibitive physical separation of abortion services from family planning services. Complying with the Gag Rule would mean closing up to 85% of health centers providing abortion care and forcing unethical limitations on medical professionals. None of the Gag Rule’s provisions are rooted in public health. In fact, by increasing barriers to birth control, abortion care, and a wide range of sexual and reproductive health care services, and the Gag Rule would make our state less healthy. We cannot abide by this attack.
Our withdrawal from Title X means we are fore-going close to $2 million in federal funds. However, for the moment we are not closing any health care centers – an outcome that would inevitably hit poor and rural Mainers, who already suffer from a lack of health care access, hardest. MFP is committed to preserving Maine’s robust family planning network, but the current situation is untenable.
Without alternative sources of public funding, MFP must fill the gap using its ow limited financial reserves to support the network of family planning clinics it directly operates, as well as the various health care providers it subcontracts, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and four school-based health centers. To be clear, this is only a very short-term solution.
Meanwhile, several court pleadings have been filed on behalf of MFP.
Governor Janet Mills, the first women governor of Maine, issued the following statement in response to the MFP news:
“The Trump Administration’s Gag Rule is a misguided effort to deny Maine People critical health care, like cancer screenings and reproductive health services. Furthermore, it is an attach rooted in ideology – not in concern for public health – and it will only result in reduced access to health care and less healthy people, ” according to the Governor’s statement.
It continues: “In Maine this year, we have made progress in protecting sexual and expanding reproductive health care services – a sharp contrast from what we see politicians in Washington and other states doing. It is my goal as Governor to ensure that Maine men and women have robust access to health care. I applaud MFP for their commitment to keep their health care centers open for as long as possible and my Administration will work with them to evaluate if there is any way the state government can be helpful.”