Scenes from the Women’s March on Juneau in front of the Alaska State Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Scenes from the Women’s March on Juneau in front of the Alaska State Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

One-two punch: Planned Parenthood in Alaska loses state and federal funding

The organization will no longer receive Title X funds.

On Monday, as Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced cuts to the state budget, including $50 million for Medicaid, Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide decided to withdrawal from the Title X federal funding program.

That decision will make access to health care in Alaska more difficult, according to Jessica Cler, Alaska Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, the advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood in Alaska.

“This withdrawal (of federal funding) hits Alaska the hardest,” Cler said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We already know that access to health care is a challenge here, from provider shortages to the high cost. So with the gag rule on top of the drastic budget cuts from the governor … health care is going to be increasingly hard to access and will particularly hurt low-income folks the hardest.”

Planned Parenthood withdrew from the program because of a new rule, known as the gag rule, imposed by the Trump administration that prevents recipients of Title X federal funding from informing their patients of how or where they can access abortion.

“We believe it is unethical to not give the most accurate information to our patients,” Cler told the Empire. “That includes telling them how to access abortion.” The new rule allows for clinics to tell patients that abortion is an option, but does not allow direct referrals to other health centers.

According to Cler, Planned Parenthood in Alaska provides services to 74 percent of the patients served by Title X in Alaska, which is more than 6,000 people. A statement from Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest and Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) said that roughly 25 percent of those patients are uninsured, meaning their access to health care is already limited.

In addition to the gag rule, the Trump administration has imposed other rules for Title X recipients, which Planned Parenthood considers to be cost prohibitive and unnecessary.

In “a move that is clearly targeted at Planned Parenthood,” according to Cler, the Trump administration has imposed physical separation requirements for health centers which provide abortion. According to a statement from Planned Parenthood released in February, physical separation requirements could force health clinics which provide abortions to construct new entrances and exits or entirely new clinics. The administration’s rule also imposes financial separation meaning that clinics wanting to provide abortion would have to hire a separate staff of doctors, nurses and administrative staff.

Title X does not provide money for abortions, only birth control and reproductive health care. Physical separation rules would mean that a clinic which provides abortions could not also provide things like birth-control pills or sexually-transmitted infection screening or treatment at the same location or by the same staff.

Cler said that Planned Parenthood in Alaska was not yet able to determine just how the governor’s cuts would impact the organization’s services.

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to offer the same care to our patients but we know that’s not sustainable,” Cler said. “We’re looking at other options over the next couple of months.”


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


More in News

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

Juneau City Hall. The City and Borough of Juneau has distributed nearly $5 million in household and individual assistance grants since October. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
All housing and most personal assistance grants processed

About $5 million in aid is flowing to households and individuals in Juneau.

A child plays at Capital School Park. The park is in line for a remodel that will fix the crumbling retaining wall, visible in the background. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Expected heavy snow and high winds Thursday evening prompted Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to issue a warning of increased avalanche hazard along Thane Road. (File photo)
Avalanche risk increasing along Thane Road

Be careful and plan for the possibility of an extended road closure.

White House, tribes joined to deliver Alaska Native vaccines

The initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 8

The most recent state and local numbers.

Federal report says pandemic hit seafood industry hard

Catch brought to the docks fell 29% over the course of the first seven months of the year.

The Juneau Police Department and other law enforcement agencies say they are prepared for the possibility of political violence at the Capitol building on the day of the presidential inauguration. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
No known threats of violence, but police say they’re prepared

“The Juneau Police Department and our partners have not received any specific threats,” the agency said.

Most Read