Anti-abortion clinics caught in tumult over Trump family planning rules

By: Victoria Colliver, Politico, May 3, 2019

A faith-based chain of clinics that won $5.1 million federal family planning funds by positioning itself as an alternative to Planned Parenthood now unexpectedly finds itself faced with the prospect of offering contraception and counseling that includes discussing abortion — activities antithetical to its very existence.

The nonprofit Obria Group received the Title X grant in March as a sweeping Trump administration revamp of the program was churning forward. New rules would, among other things, bar health providers in the program from offering or referring patients for abortions — a restriction critics call a “gag rule.” Since then, a series of federal court injunctions havefrozen the changes, prompting abortion-rights groups to demand Obria comply with existing standards.

The watchdog Campaign for Accountability, which already is suing HHS over access to documents connected to the policy changes, is considering asking the agency’s inspector general office to investigate how the money is being used — and trying to rally Congress to get involved.

“Congress appropriates the money and sets out rules governing how that money should be spent,” said Alice Huling, the group’s counsel. “Obria, from what we can tell and from what they’ve said, is not complying with the rules, and that becomes a misuse of taxpayer money.”

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