The Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center (BVWHC) is getting help from the state to make up for the funding it lost due to the Trump Administration’s policies aiming to restrict access to abortion.
In July, the Trump Administration instated a new rule — often referred to as the “Title X gag rule” — barring health care providers that perform abortions, refer to abortion providers, or even discuss abortion with their patients from receiving federal funds through the program.
Title X provides no funding for abortion — only for contraception, STD testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other reproductive health services for low-income and uninsured people. But because BVWHC provides abortions in addition to Title X-funded services, it was forced out of the program, which it relied on for half a million dollars a year.
According to BVWHC Communications Director Lisa Radelet, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is helping make up for that funding shortfall through the Colorado Family Planning Program. Because it’s funded strictly through state dollars, it’s not subject to the new rule.
“The money we’re getting through the state doesn’t completely replace what we lost, but close enough to keep our doors open and our sliding scale intact for our low-income and uninsured patients,” Radelet said.
In 2018, more than half of the patients served by BVWHC fell below the federal poverty line.
Radelet said BVWHC is receiving about $400,000 from the state compared to the $500,000 it had previously received from the federal Title X program, and hopes to make up for the rest through individual donations.
“We feel very fortunate to be doing this work in Colorado, a state that supports family planning access,” Radelet said. “Colorado understands the public health benefits of publicly funded family planning.”
Radelet is referring to the success of the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which provided free long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and Nexplanon to low-income women statewide between 2009 and 2014. The initiative cut both the teen birth rate and the teen abortion rate nearly in half, and avoided nearly $70 million in public assistance costs.
Still, Radelet acknowledged that their new funding source isn’t totally secure, given that the state budget has to be approved yearly by the legislature. While Colorado currently holds a pro-choice majority in the legislature, that could change in coming elections.
BVWHC, the state’s first abortion clinic, is also the only abortion clinic that was affected by the gag rule, given that it was the only one in the state that still relied on Title X when the new rule was announced. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains hasn’t received Title X funds for two decades after it was barred from receiving the state’s portion of those funds.