Baltimore health officials, lawmakers say abortion politics threatens $1.4 million in funding for health clinics (Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore health clinics fear a proposed federal gag rule that would prohibit money from going to centers that perform or refer patients for abortions would undercut their ability to care for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule that would withhold funding from the Title X Family Planning Program. The federal agency is taking public comments on the issue, which is being criticized by local lawmakers and health officials, until Tuesday.

At stake in Baltimore is $1.4 million that goes to 23 health centers — $560,000 in federal money and $850,000 in money from the state that is subject to Title X rules. Those health centers served more than 17,000 patients in 2016.

Local officials, including Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, Health Commissioner Dr. Leana S. Wen and the city’s entire congressional delegation, gathered last week to denounce the looming rule change. They criticized it as politically motivated and a threat to women’s health.

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When I’ve asked experts about these approaches, it’s not that any of them are bad. It’s that they fall short. For instance, Leana Wen, the former health commissioner of Baltimore (and soon-to-be president of Planned Parenthood), said that the Support for Patients and Communities Act “is simply tinkering around the edges.”

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