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Planned Parenthood office sounds off on gag rule

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MONTICELLO, NY — A federal program called Title Ten has been used to fund reproductive healthcare for women in low-income situations since 1970.

It was always the case that the funds could not be used to pay for an abortion. Now, President Donald Trump’s administration says any provider who accepts the funding is also not allowed to tell a client how or where to get an abortion, or to discuss abortion as a method of family planning.

On August 16, a federal appeals court said the rule could go into effect even though the issue is still being litigated. That prompted Planned Parenthood, the organization that gets the largest share of Title Ten funding, to withdraw from the program.

With that as background, Sen. Jen Metzger turned out to the Monticello Health Center, which is part of the Planned Parenthood of Mid-Hudson Valley (PPMHV), on August 22 to give the center a grant of $13,000 to help fill some of the void created by the loss of federal funding.

In existence since 1975, PPMHV served a total of 1,265 patients in 2018, 65% of whom are at or below the poverty level. PPMHV provides screenings for cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, mental health, diabetes and provides various other health-related services.

Ruth-Ellen Blodgett, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the PPMHV said she hopes the state will step in, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised, and provide some of the funding that will be lost without the Title Ten dollars. “New York State has been extremely generous in funding a family-planning program,” she said. “The federal dollars go to the state department of health (DOH) that mix those dollars with state funding, and here at PPMHV we get a little over $2 million a year from the state to help with sliding fee scales, and offset costs that low-income women cannot afford. In 2018, of that $2 million, $717,000 were federal dollars. We can’t take that kind of a hit.

“I think the hardest thing for us to absorb is the fact that the money that we get from New York, that was mixed with the federal dollars, really allows a woman or other individuals to access our services if they have zero income. We can offset that cost. In other states, such as Texas, they do not get this kind of money. If they are able to slide fees, it’s because donors have stepped up to the plate.”

She said about $1.5 million of the PPMHV’s overall $10 million budget comes from private donations.


She also said that PPMHV is joining forces with PP affiliates in with New York City, Nassau County, Mohawk-Hudson and the Southern Finger Lakes.


“It is our belief … that if we join forces as we are going to, that we would be a $103 million healthcare network,” Blodgett said. “Financially, that would be the largest PP affiliate in the country, and we’ll be able to reduce duplicative efforts. We’re also looking at how we could then use some of the reserves of the more wealthy affiliates such as New York and Nassau, to make investments where we believe they need to be made. For instance, there is no PP in Delaware County.”

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