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Missouri Family Planning Groups Say Proposed Title X Changes Would Threaten Healthcare Safety Net

Alex Smith
Kristin Metcalf-Wilson, lead clinician for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, says proposed changes to Title X funds could affect safety net healthcare throughout Missouri.

Newly proposed federal rules would force Missouri clinics to choose between providing comprehensive healthcare and receiving federal funds, according to family planning groups.

Leaders of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Missouri Family Health Council Inc. and other Missouri health groups on Thursday denounced proposed changes to the federal Title X program, which provides funding for family planning and reproductive health providers throughout the country.

“This is an attempt, we think, to directly take away women’s basic rights, and as a result, people will likely not get the healthcare they need,” Kristin Metcalf-Wilson, lead clinician and assistant vice president of health services for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said in a conference call with reporters.  

On June 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published proposed changes to Title X rules, including a provision barring clinics that receive Title X funds from making abortion referrals unless a woman who is pregnant “clearly states she has already decided to have an abortion.”

Michelle Trupiano, executive director of Missouri Family Health Council, called the proposal a “gag order” that would impair health clinics across the state.

“This proposed rule goes far to gag providers,” Trupiano said. “Then providers will have to make that choice of whether or not to provide that comprehensive, medically accurate information or receive Title X funding.”

Other proposed changes include requiring physical separation between facilities that provide abortion services and facilities providing other health services, and deemphasizing the use of contraceptives in family planning.

If the proposed changes are implemented, critics say, Planned Parenthood clinics will likely incur significant hits, which would both reduce their ability to provide reproductive health services and strain the resources of other providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting public comment on the proposals until the end of July. 

Alex Smith is a health reporter for KCUR. You can reach him at alexs@kcur.org.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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