In the wake of a recent federal policy change, Planned Parenthood’s Ann Arbor affiliate is looking to slice half a million dollars from its budget. “It’s a tremendous blow,” says Angela Vasquez-Giroux, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Michigan. The group’s two Ann Arbor clinics were the only providers of federal “Title X” family planning services in Washtenaw County, reaching some 3,200 residents last year. Vasquez-Giroux says the services will continue, but the group will find it harder to underwrite care for low-income patients, who pay on a sliding-fee scale.
Title X was created to support family planning services such as birth control, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy testing. It can’t be used for abortions–but in August, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would no longer fund any services at groups that even refers patients to abortion providers.
“That’s what makes it so clearly targeted,” says Vasquez-Giroux. Planned Parenthood stopped taking the money rather than comply.
Who’s DHSS funding instead? An article in the current issue of Mother Jones magazine recounts a reporter’s visits to California clinics run by a nonprofit called Obria. They were awarded $5.1 million in March to provide contraception and family planning services to low-income women.
As required, Obria doesn’t refer women to providers of abortion. But it also doesn’t provide birth control, or refer women to clinics that do. Founded as a religious anti-abortion ministry, Obria doesn’t even dispense condoms, the first line of defense against sexually transmitted infections.
“We’re an abstinence-only organization,” the group’s founder explained to Catholic World Report in 2011. “It always works.”