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Senate pro-lifers caution Trump against abortion funding in spending negotiations

Washington D.C., Jul 22, 2019 / 04:25 pm (CNA).- The leader of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus is asking President Trump to refuse any attempts to undermine or strip pro-life measures from future spending bills.

“As you work with Congress on a deal to set discretionary spending caps for the next two fiscal years, we wish to express our support for your efforts to secure a commitment from Democratic Leaders to reject anti-life poison pill riders in the House-passed appropriations bills,” states a letter currently being circulated by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), for signatures by fellow members.

Sen. Daines chairs the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, formed this year. He circulated the letter amidst negotiations between the White House and Democratic leaders on setting discretionary spending caps and the debt ceiling, Roll Call reported. Daines is insisting that any deal must not include pro-abortion riders.

Some of the pro-life protections mentioned in Daines’ letter include the long-standing Hyde Amendment, a bipartisan policy that bars federal Medicaid funding of elective abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is at stake. The amendment has passed Congress every year as part of spending legislation since 1976; the rape and incest exceptions for abortion funding were added in 1994.

In June, several Democrats led by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) attempted to include an amendment reversing Hyde in an appropriations package, but the amendment was pulled amidst concerns that it would affect final passage of the legislation through the Senate.

Other “poison pill riders” that Sen. Daines’ letter warns Trump against include attempts to undo pro-life policies such as the Dornan Amendment that prohibits the District of Columbia from using local funds for elective abortions, as well as any reversal of the Trump administration’s “Title X Protect Life Rule” and its “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” policy, an expansion of the Mexico Policy.

The Mexico City Policy was implemented by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush and barred funding of abortions in $600 million of U.S. foreign aid. Trump’s expansion applied the abortion funding ban to over $8.8 billion in U.S. foreign aid for global health assistance.

The “Title X Protect Life Rule” instituted pro-life protections into federal Title X family planning grant policy; grant recipients could not refer for abortions, nor could they “co-locate” with abortion clinics.

In January of 2019, President Trump wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), promising to “veto any legislation that weakens current pro-life Federal policies and laws, or that encourages the destruction of innocent human life at any stage.”

Sen. Daines pressed President Trump to honor that commitment in spending caps negotiations, and pledged to fight against any pro-abortion riders in legislation.

“As members of the pro-life majority in the United States Senate, we will strongly oppose each of these anti-life poison pill riders and will work to ensure they are not inserted into any appropriations bill before the Senate, either in committee or on the floor,” the letter stated.

 

HHS delays enforcement of Title X Protect Life Rule

Washington D.C., Jul 22, 2019 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Department of Health and Human Services has reportedly delayed enforcement of the new Protect Life Rule, which bars public money from taxpayer-funded clinics that refer patients for abortions.

The Associated Press reported that it had received a copy of a notice sent June 20 from HHS to the representatives of the clinics in question. The notice said the government “does not intend to bring enforcement actions” against clinics that are making “good-faith efforts to comply,” the AP reported.

The HHS had on July 15 informed Title X fund recipients that they will no longer be permitted to refer mothers for abortion services, and must keep finances separate from facilities that provide abortions.

Under the new HHS notice, clinics must submit a compliance plan by August, and by mid-September must demonstrate that they are carrying out “most of the new requirements,” the AP reports.

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

The HHS had originally said last week that the new rule required immediate compliance. By March 2020, abortion facilities will no longer be allowed to co-locate with clinics that receive Title X moneys. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion may still receive funds.

Previously, abortion providers were ineligable to receive Title X funds, and the Supreme Court upheld this restriction in 1991. When President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, his administration changed the program to include abortion providers.

The rule will strip about $60 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood, whose clinics both refer for abortion services and are co-located with abortion facilities. Planned Parenthood presently receives about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed and serves about 40 percent of all clients who benefit from Title X.

Planned Parenthood has chosen to eschew federal Title X funding under the new rule and continue to refer for and perform abortions. The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents many of the affected clinics, is challenging the rule in federal court, but the administration says there is currently no legal obstacle to enforcing it, ABC News reports.

Illinois has already announced that the state will provide state funding to abortion clinics and clinics that refer for abortions in the light of new changes to Title X rules, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced July 18.

Planned Parenthood locations in Illinois received 40 percent of the Title X funds distributed in the state, despite only operating 17 of the more than 70 clinics who received funds each year. Approximately 112,000 people in Illinois acquired birth control through Title X.

US bishops say reported shutdown of refugee program is 'disturbing'

Washington D.C., Jul 22, 2019 / 01:01 pm (CNA).- If reports of major cuts to the U.S. refugee resettlement and asylum programs are true they are alarming, the chair of the US bishops' migration committee said Friday.

Politico has reported that officials in the Trump administration were considering cutting the annual refugee cap next year to zero, or to greatly reduced numbers such as 10,000 or 3,000. This represents the total number of refugees that would be allowed into the United States in the next fiscal year.

“This recent report, if true, is disturbing and against the principles we have as a nation and a people, and has the potential to end the refugee resettlement program entirely,” Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin said July 19..

The reports were leaked to Politico from three individuals close to recent meetings of security officials.

These numbers would represent a dramatic decrease from this year’s cap of 30,000 refugees. In 2018, the cap was 45,000, and in 2017 it was 50,000. According to data from the Migration Policy Institute, reported by the Washington Post, prior to Trump’s presidency, the immigration cap has typically been set, since the 1990s, between 70,000 and 80,000.

Vasquez said he was concerned by the reports of cuts to the refugee cap when “the world is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian displacement crisis in almost a century.”

“I strongly oppose any further reductions of the refugee resettlement program,” he said. “Offering refuge to those fleeing religious and other persecution has been a cornerstone of what has made this country great and a place of welcome. Eliminating the refugee resettlement program leaves refugees in harm’s way and keeps their families separated across continents.”

Vasquez noted that refugees already undergo an intense vetting process that often lasts between one and a half to two years, and includes extensive interviews and background checks.

“Many of these refugees have familial ties here and quickly begin working to rebuild their lives and enrich their communities,” he added.

“As Pope Francis has said we must work for ‘globalization of solidarity’ with refugees, not a globalization of indifference. Rather than ending the program, we should work instead to restore the program to its historic norms of an annual resettlement goal of 95,000,” Vasquez concluded.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration published a new regulation for asylum seekers, which states that people seeking asylum in the U.S. must prove that they also sought protection in at least one other country that they passed through in order to get to the U.S.

The move appears to be targeted at the wave of migrants from Central American countries, who pass through Mexico in order to get to the U.S. border.

Trump has made increased immigration restrictions and regulations a cornerstone of his 2020 presidential re-election campaign.

The final cap for refugees for the 2020 fiscal year will be announced in September.

Car crash reveals Santa Rosa priest embezzled $95,000

Santa Rosa, Calif., Jul 22, 2019 / 11:05 am (CNA).- When EMTs rushed to the scene of a Santa Rosa car accident June 19, they found Fr. Oscar Diaz, a local pastor, stuck in the car with a broken hip and other injuries. They also found $18,305.86, in cash.

Diaz told police the money was his salary. It wasn’t.

The money belonged to Santa Rosa’s Resurrection Parish, where Diaz is pastor. Diaz was attempting to steal it. A subsequent investigation found that Diaz had, in his office and home, collection bags from Resurrection Parish, totaling more than $95,000.

The priest has now been suspended from ministry, the Diocese of Santa Rosa announced July 22, and he has been the subject of a police investigation.

“There is also evidence that money was stolen in a variety of ways from each of the parishes where he had served as pastor. I am deeply grieved that this has happened and am deeply saddened that the parishes he was sent to serve have been harmed,” Bishop Robert F. Vasa wrote in his July 22 press release.

“The full extent of the theft is not known and may never be fully known but the Diocese is committed to determining as fully as possible the extent of the theft from each of these parishes. Once such determinations are made it is the goal of the Diocese to make restitution to the parishes.”

Vasa added that the Santa Rosa “police determined that the protocols surrounding collection accounting would make it difficult to arrive at sufficient proof of theft to pursue criminal prosecution.”

In addition to its July 22 statement, the Diocese of Santa Rosa posted on its website a July 19 memo from Vasa to priests of the diocese, offering further details on the embezzlement.

Diaz, 56, admitted the theft, according to the memo, and will likely not be permitted to serve again in the diocese.

“I will not hide this ugly truth. I have no desire to be defamatory. What we, as a Church, do at this juncture needs to be healing, restorative and transparent. This public declaration is a way in which Father Oscar can be made accountable for his actions. Unfortunately, given the length of time over which theft occurred, the variety of methods and the total dollars involved, I cannot envision any possible future ministry. This will need to be discerned further,” Vasa wrote.

After the priest’s admission of guilt, “I expressed to him my deep sadness, anger and dismay that he had so seriously violated the trust given to him by the Diocese, by the Parishes, and by the parishioners,” Vasa added.

The July 19 memo also explained “reluctance to pursue a criminal investigation” on the part of police.

Vasa noted that pursuing possible criminal prosecution of the thefts would require the diocese to contract a Certified Fraud Investigator, costing at least $5,000, “and possibly more.”

“I have no idea what such an investigation would cost,” Vasa wrote, noting that a fraud investigator would be required to visit five parishes and examine their records.

“While I am willing to have Father Oscar face prosecution I do not know that I want to expend additional money for a prosecution which brings no additional benefit to either the Diocese or the parishes which are victims of his crimes. I am very interested in determining a full accounting of  the theft for possible Insurance purposes and in order to do this I initially thought that a criminal complaint by me and a police investigation would be the only way to access Father Oscar’s Banking Records. To his credit, Father Oscar has been very cooperative with me in obtaining the records I need to establish some estimate of the full extent of theft,” Vasa wrote.

The bishop added that he had reflected prayerfully on whether to expend diocesan funds to pursue the possibility of criminal prosecution.

“My goal is some semblance of justice, reparation, and at least spiritual restitution,” Vasa wrote.

“I am still very angry and it is almost impossible to set that anger aside and mercifully discern the path forward. I have asked myself repeatedly what ‘good’ could come from Father Oscar’s prosecution and possible imprisonment. What does ‘justice’ look like in this particular case?”

Vasa noted that possible prosecution could be a deterrent to future theft, but noted that canonical penalties could serve the same purpose. He added that the priest’s “public exposure...is certainly a punishment which sends a strong message.”

“It may happen that the individual parishes involved may desire to file charges and pursue prosecution. I could not oppose such an action. It is the parish’s right to do so. I would however advocate for mercy,” the bishop wrote.

“I have seriously considered this matter from a variety of perspectives but that does not mean that I am convinced that I am right,” Vasa added.

“I know and fully understand that Father Oscar’s actions have only indirectly touched me. Others have been more strongly affected, either directly or indirectly. I am aware that you, my brothers in the priesthood, have felt this theft as a violation of fraternity and a betrayal of both trust and friendship. I cannot speak for your ability, desire, or will to forgive. I can only acknowledge that I am aware of these feelings.”

“Other individuals have been betrayed as well; mostly the lay faithful. Our laity have been asked so often to understand and forgive and I can assure you that I take my responsibility to speak on behalf of the Church, which is all of us, most seriously. I speak in the name of the Church but the individual parishes where Father Oscar has served have a voice as well. I do not envision that any individual parish will seek to pursue criminal prosecution but I fully understand the hurt and anger which undoubtedly will be stirred up in light of this theft and betrayal,” the bishop wrote.

“I ask you to try to turn this moment from one of hurt and anger to a desire for healing, compassion and ultimately forgiveness. I am not negating the seriousness of the crime, I am suggesting a way forward which is more fully consistent with a good and merciful God.”

Church in Puerto Rico to hold 24 hour prayer encounter amid protests

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jul 22, 2019 / 10:40 am (CNA).- The Puerto Rican bishops' conference announced Saturday it will hold a 24-hour prayer encounter this weekend, in the face of the territory's social and governmental instability.

Protesters have been calling this week for the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello.

Earlier this month, crude messages from a group chat among Rosello and some of his team were published in the media.

More remotely, his administration has faced pressure over corruption and its response to the territory's debt crisis, economic recession, and Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in 2017.

Rosello announced July 21 that he will not seek re-election next year, but he intends to complete his term.

The Puerto Rican bishops' conference said July 20 that it will hold a day-long prayer encounter at the National Sanctuary of Mary, Mother of Divine Providence in San Juan. The encounter will begin and end with Mass on the evenings of July 26 and 27, with Eucharistic Adoration in between.

“We invite the People of God to participate and to unite in prayer at a crucial moment of the history of Puerto Rico,” read the message signed by Bishop Ruben Antonio Gonzalez Medina of Ponce and Bishop Eusebio Ramos Morales of Caguas, the president and secretary, respectively, of the bishops' conference.

The bishops emphasized that the encounter will be an opportunity to contribute to the correction of Puerto Rico's “complicated social, political, and economic situations.”

“Under the mantel of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Providence, Patron of the whole of the Puerto Rican mation, let us implore the mercy of God for our people and that the wisdom of the Holy Spirit be poured out upon our leaders,” the bishops concluded.

“Let us make this convocation in faith and in confidence in God the Father who walks with his people.”

Fla. McDonald's sued for denying employment to Hasidic Jew because of his beard

Orlando, Fla., Jul 20, 2019 / 06:01 am (CNA).- An Orlando-area McDonald’s is being sued for denying employment to a man on account of his beard.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the lawsuit on the man’s behalf, said in their lawsuit that the McDonald’s manager told the man that "he could not hire him because doing so would violate McDonald's policies and the law," News 6 in Orlando reported.

According to the lawsuit, the man told the restaurant that he was a Hasidic Jew and that his religious beliefs prevented him from shaving his beard, but that he offered to wear a beard net instead. He was applying for the position of a maintenance worker at the restaurant in September 2016.

His employment was still denied. The EEOC filed a lawsuit with the Orlando McDonald’s July 17, three years after the incident. The man is asking for three years worth of back pay for the job in damages, News 6 reported.

Hasidic Judaism is an orthodox movement within Judaism in which men do not shave their beards, per instructions in the Torah. In the lawsuit, the EEOC argues that McDonald’s violated the man’s rights by declining his employment due to his religious beliefs.

In an interview with News 6, Rabbi David Kay with Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland, another Orlando suburb, explained that the beard was an “expression of faith” for Hasidic Jewish men, and that he considered the lawsuit to be a teaching moment on Jewish traditions.

"Anytime we have the opportunity to expand our awareness and understanding of how faith traditions express themselves, I think that’s a plus," Kay told News 6.

McDonald’s had not responded to News 6 requests for comment by press time. It is unclear why this lawsuit is being filed now instead of immediately after the incident occurred.

Illinois to fund abortion clinics after Title X Protect Life Rule

Springfield, Ill., Jul 19, 2019 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- Illinois will provide state funding to abortion clinics and clinics that refer for abortions in the light of new changes to Title X rules, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.

Earlier in the week, part of the “Protect Life Rule,” which created new eligibility guidelines for Title X family planning funds, went into effect.

“President Trump’s gag rule undermines women’s health care and threatens the providers that millions of women and girls rely on, and we will not let that stand in the state of Illinois,” said Pritzker in a July 18 statement. The state’s Department of Public Health will instead fund the 28 clinics in the state that received Title X funds and also refer for or provide abortions. The clinics were due to receive about $2.4 million in federal funds through the end of September, the current fiscal year.

Planned Parenthood locations in Illinois received 40 percent of the Title X funds distributed in the state, despite only operating 17 of the more than 70 clinics who received funds each year. Approximately 112,000 people in Illinois acquired birth control through Title X.

Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide currently receive about $60 million in federal funds annually from this program, more than 10 percent of the half-billion dollars in total federal funding it receives per year.

Shortly after the Protect Life Rule and Title X changes were announced in February, Planned Parenthood of Illinois announced that they had no plans to comply with the new rules.

“We will not violate our own medical ethics, and because of what the gag rule does, which blocks patients from getting accurate information about their care, we won’t accept the money,” Julie Lynn, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune at the time.

Lynn stated that Planned Parenthood of Illinois would adjust to ensure that their patients were still able to receive contraception, and forgo Title X funds.

Six days after the Protect Life Rule was finalized, Planned Parenthood of Illinois announced a new initiative, dubbed “Access Birth Control”, that would distribute contraception pills or devices, including IUDs, condoms, and Depo-Provera shots, free of charge to eligible persons.

On its website, Planned Parenthood of Illinois said that the program will run through January 2021, the end of President Donald Trump’s first presidential term, in apparent expectation of a victory for an opposition candidate more favorable to abortion.

The Department of Health and Human Services informed Title X fund recipients July 15 that they will no longer be permitted to refer mothers for abortion services, and must keep finances separate from facilities that provide abortions.

As of March 2020, abortion facilities will no longer be allowed to co-locate with clinics that receive Title X moneys. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion may still receive funds.

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

Michigan considers two pro-life ballot initiatives

Lansing, Mich., Jul 19, 2019 / 02:26 pm (CNA).- The Michigan Catholic Conference is urging state residents to support a petition drive for an initiative to ban “dismemberment abortions” instead of a separate petition drive that seeks to ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

The two competing initiatives are backed by different groups. The dismemberment abortion ban is being conducted by a group called Michigan Values Life, while the heartbeat ban is supported by the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition. The Michigan Catholic Conference and Right to Life of Michigan are both supporting Michigan Values Life.

The ban on “dismemberment abortions” would make it a felony for a physician to perform a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion, and the ballot initiative seeks to update the state’s existing ban on partial-birth abortions.

D&E abortions are typically done in the second trimester of pregnancy and involve the dismemberment of an unborn child.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has said she would veto any pro-life legislation. The ballot initiative push is a way for these bills to become law outside of her signature.

Presently, Michigan law prohibits all abortion. This law is not enforced due to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, but would go into back into effect if the decision were ever to be overturned. If the proposed heartbeat bill were to become law and Roe were to be overturned, it would actually liberalize existing Michigan abortion law and permit the abortion of infants prior to the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

“At worst, the heartbeat ban could be interpreted to create a conflict in the law and replace the 1931 ban, actually allowing abortions up until a baby’s heartbeat is detected,” said a fact sheet released by the Michigan Catholic Conference.

While it is not uncommon for pro-lifers to oppose heartbeat legislation due to the potential of expensive legal and constitutional challenges, this is relatively unusual as pro-life groups are opposing the heartbeat bill due to the existence of an even stronger piece of anti-abortion legislation.

Several states have passed “heartbeat bills,” and those bills have been signed into law. None of the bans have been allowed to actually go into effect due to legal challenges. “Heartbeat bills” will not be considered constitutional until the Supreme Court either overturns the Roe v. Wade decision or makes a different ruling on an abortion case.

Supporters of either petition drive must get approximately 350,000 signatures to force the legislature to vote on the legislation.

 

Ed. note: This story has been updated for clarity.

 

Vatican announces sanctions on disgraced Bishop Bransfield

Wheeling, W.V., Jul 19, 2019 / 01:57 pm (CNA).- Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, Bishop emeritus of Wheeling-Charleston, will no longer be allowed to participate in public Masses or live within his former diocese. He must “make personal amends” for the harm he brought to the diocese, Pope Francis announced in a communique released on Friday afternoon.

Bransfield is reported to have sexually harassed, assaulted, and coerced seminarians, priests, and other adults during his time as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston. He was also found to have given large cash gifts to high-ranking Church leaders, using diocesan funds.

The July 19 Vatican communique, which was published Friday on the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s website, was sent from the Apostolic Nuncio of the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.

Bransfield’s resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on Sept. 13, 2018, five days after Bransfield reached the retirement age of 75.

When Pope Francis accepted Bransfield’s resignation, he appointed Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore as the apostolic administrator of the diocese. He also authorized Lori to start an investigation into the allegations made against the retired bishop, which at the time were described as financial abuses and the sexual harassment of adults.

A hotline for the investigation that was set up in September received more than three dozen calls during its first two weeks.
In March, Lori announced that he had restricted Bransfield’s ministry in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as well as in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and that the Holy See would be conducting an additional evaluation of the investigation. That assessment was released on Friday.

“Pending the assessment of the findings of the Holy See, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, I have directed that Bishop Bransfield is not authorized to exercise any priestly or episcopal ministry either within the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston or within the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” Lori said in a March 11 press release.

The Holy See’s communique expands that restriction, and adds the additional prohibition on living within the diocese. Further, the Vatican wrote that Bransfield has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused.”

Per the release, “the nature and extent of the amends to be decided in consultation with the future Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston.”

After the investigation, Archbishop Lori confirmed that investigators had established a pattern of sexual malfeasance, and serious financial misconduct by Bransfield throughout his time as bishop.

“The investigative report determined that during his tenure as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, Bishop Bransfield engaged in a pattern of excessive and inappropriate spending,” Lori said, citing renovations to multiple residences and the misuse of Church funds “for personal benefit on such things as personal travel, dining, liquor, gifts and luxury items.”

Some bishops who received cash gifts from Bransfield pledged to return them.

Planned Parenthood eschews federal funding to continue abortion referrals

Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2019 / 12:31 am (CNA).- As a new regulation takes effect, barring Title X recipients from making abortion referrals, Planned Parenthood has reportedly decided to forego the federal funds in order to continue directing women to abortion.

“We are not going to comply with a regulation that would require health care providers to not give full information to their patients,” Jacqueline Ayers, the group's top lobbyist, said Tuesday as reported by ABC News.

The Trump administration announced July 15 that parts of the Protect Life Rule, which prohibits recipients of Title X family planning funds from referring or performing abortions, will go into effect immediately. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion may still receive funds.

Pro-life advocates have praised the regulations as a commonsense way to ensure enforcement of already-existing rules against taxpayer money being used for abortions.

“A strong majority of Americans have consistently voiced their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion – it is even unpopular among Democrats and self-described pro-choice Americans,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List last week.

“Without reducing Title X funding by a dime, the Protect Life Rule simply draws a bright line between abortion and family planning, stopping abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from treating Title X as their private slush fund.”

The Protect Life Rule will strip about $60 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood, whose clinics both refer for abortion services and are co-located with abortion facilities. Planned Parenthood presently receives about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed and serves about 40 percent of all clients who benefit from Title X.

Title X does not pay for abortions, but recipients have in the past been able to refer patients for abortion.

The Department of Health and Human Services informed Title X fund recipients on July 15 that they will no longer be permitted to refer mothers for abortions, and must keep finances separate from facilities that provide abortions.

Planned Parenthood described the court’s decision as “devastating” and “crushing news,” though the organization remains eligible to receive $500 million in other federal funding.

As of March next year, abortion facilities will no longer be allowed to co-locate with clinics that receive Title X money.

HHS received $4.1 million in Title X funds in April to disburse to almost 70 service sites, many of which are Planned Parenthood affiliates, The Hill reports.

The rule is being challenged in federal court, but the administration says there is currently no legal obstacle to enforcing it, ABC News reports.

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

An independent family planning provider in Maine announced that it too would continue to refer for abortions and eschew federal funding.

Planned Parenthood’s president Dr. Leana Wen parted ways with the organization earlier this week, saying her employment had been ended due to “philosophical differences” with the board “over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood.”

Wen noted that when she was interviewed for the role of president, she asked the search committee whether they viewed the organization primarily as an advocacy organization “with medical services that are necessary to strengthen its impact” or as a health care organization “with advocacy as a necessary vehicle to protect rights and access.”

Wen said that she firmly believes Planned Parenthood to be fundamentally about health care, and has spent her eight months as president focusing on patient care and the promotion of reproductive rights as health care.

The board, however, wanted to move in a different direction, emphasizing abortion advocacy as their fundamental mission, she said.

Wen was appointed head of Planned Parenthood in September 2018, following the 12-year presidency of Cecile Richards. Political organizer Alexis McGill Johnson has been named as acting president.