San Jose leaders push to fund Planned Parenthood shortfall
Photo courtesy of Planned Parenthood.

    Two Silicon Valley lawmakers are looking to patch up a $250,000 loss of funding for San Jose’s Planned Parenthood centers after the nonprofit organization pulled out of Title X, a decades-old program that provides grants for affordable birth control and reproductive health care.

    The decision to leave the program came after President Donald Trump demanded all Title X grantees comply with a “gag rule” making it illegal for health care providers to tell patients how or where to access abortion services. Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with the president and denied a request by Planned Parenthood to block the Title X gag rule.

    Now, San Jose Councilmembers Magdalena Carrasco and Sylvia Arenas want San Jose City Hall to allocate public dollars to help the centers make up the hefty loss of funding.

    “Planned Parenthood has withdrawn from Title X family planning program rather than comply with the new draconian Trump administration gag rules regarding abortion counseling,” the lawmakers wrote in a memo. “The federal changes have resulted in the loss of $250,000 for San Jose Planned Parenthood locations which currently serves over 36,000 women in the city of San Jose, most of which are low-income women of color. Our residents who are mostly under-insured women and families will lose access to basic healthcare services because of the reduction in funding.”

    The four Planned Parenthood clinics in San Jose are the busiest in the Mar Monte system, according to the proposal, serving the most families in the region. They said the loss of funding poses serious health risks to women amid a rising rate of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, syphilis and HPV, and could also threaten sex education programs hosted by Planned Parenthood in multiple San Jose schools.

    Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez also submitted a proposal to provide funding to Planned Parenthood for one year. That proposal will be heard by county lawmakers on Sept. 10.

    The local elected leaders stressed that Planned Parenthood does more than provide abortion services — women rely on the centers for cancer screenings, birth control, pregnancy testing and care, mammograms and infertility services.

    Title X program funding has never been used for abortion services, leaders with the organization said.

    “Trump’s administration is trying to force us to keep information from our patients. We refuse to cower to this president,” Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “The gag rule is unethical, dangerous, and we will not subject our patients to it. We are considering all of our options — the Trump administration is recklessly putting birth control and reproductive health care for millions of people at risk.”

    But local Republican leaders say San Jose should focus on funding essential services before jumping into the health care fight.

    “We still have millions of dollars in deferred maintenance for parks and city facilities and billions in unfunded pension liabilities, so we cannot afford to continue to expand the role of city government — this time into the health care sector,” said Shane Patrick Connolly, chair of the Santa Clara County Republican Party. “Regardless of one’s opinion of Planned Parenthood or the very emotional debate around abortion, it is inappropriate for the city to take on health care which is completely outside of its responsibilities in the City Charter.”

    Carrasco and Arenas suggested looking for funding for Planned Parenthood during the city’s mid-year budget update in January.

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