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Planned Parenthood withdraws from federal funding program

Reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood accused the Trump administration of forcing it out of a federal funding program (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Washington (AFP) - Planned Parenthood announced Monday it will withdraw from a federal funding program rather than comply with a new rule prohibiting taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with patients.

On Twitter, the organization referred to the new policy as a "gag rule" and accused US President Donald Trump's administration of forcing it to leave the Title X program, which helps low-income people access contraception.

"This is a *direct attack* on Planned Parenthood and on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it," the reproductive health care provider tweeted, along with a link to a petition for supporters to sign and a script for calling members of Congress.

"We aren't throwing in the towel & we won't give up on our patients," Planned Parenthood wrote.

"We're working to make sure that all patients can still get the health care they need."

On Friday, a US appeals court denied Planned Parenthood's request to reverse its order allowing the abortion-referral restriction to go into effect, prompting the organization's decision.

Trump introduced the rule, which bans taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with patients or referring them to abortion clinics, in 2018.

It was originally set to go into effect in May, but an Oregon federal judge blocked it a month earlier.

Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive healthcare and cancer screenings for men and women in addition to abortions, reportedly receives about $60 million per year in Title X funding.

The organization has been under fire from the president since he took office. Trump promised during his 2016 campaign to defund Planned Parenthood over its abortion services.

Multiple Democratic members of Congress have already come to Planned Parenthood's defense on Twitter, including Representative Ilhan Omar, who said thousands of her Minnesota constituents "relied on Title X-funded clinics for cancer screenings, well person visits, birth control and more."

"Losing access to this care puts lives at risk," she tweeted.