NEW YORK — Planned Parenthood said Monday it's pulling out of the federal family planning program rather than abide by a new Trump administration rule prohibiting clinics from referring women for abortions.
Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood's acting president and CEO, said the organization's nationwide network of health centers would remain open and strive to make up for the loss of federal money. But she predicted that many low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood services would "delay or go without" care.
"We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients," said McGill Johnson. "Our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them."
Responding with its own statement, the federal Department of Health and Human Services said that Planned Parenthood affiliates knew months ago about the new restrictions and suggested that the group could have chosen at that point to exit the program.
"Some grantees are now blaming the government for their own actions — having chosen to accept the grant while failing to comply with the regulations that accompany it — and they are abandoning their obligations to serve patients under the program," the department said.
Planned Parenthood was not the only organization dropping out. Maine Family Planning, which is unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood, also released its letter of withdrawal Monday. The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, an umbrella group for family planning clinics is suing to overturn the regulations.
About 4 million women are served nationwide under the Title X program, which distributes $260 million in grants to clinics. Planned Parenthood says it has served about 40% of patients.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco is weighing a lawsuit to overturn the rules, but so far the court has allowed the administration to go ahead with enforcement.
Monday was the deadline set by the government for program participants to submit statements that they intended to comply with the new rules, along with a plan. Enforcement will start Sept. 18.
Along with the ban on abortion referrals by clinics, the rule's requirements include financial separation from facilities that provide abortion, designating abortion counseling as optional instead of standard practice, and limiting which staff members can discuss abortion with patients.