Illinois to cover federal funds threatened by Trump administration's 'gag rule'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois is preparing to cover federal health care funding that's being threatened by a new Trump administration rule banning family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that the Illinois Department of Public Health will use state money to cover the 28 health care providers that currently receive Title X grant money, should the "gag rule" remain in effect through the end of the fiscal year.

On Monday, the Trump administration notified clinics that receive Title X grant money that they must stop making abortion referrals immediately, the Associated Press reported.

Pritzker's office said the state won't implement the administration's gag rule on the federal funding. The office said Illinois will forgo Title X funding from the federal government while the rule is in 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," Pritzker said. "Under my administration, Illinois will always stand with women and protect their fundamental right to choose."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois applauded Pritzker's decision to use state money to cover health care previously supported by Title X funds.

"Local health departments, health centers, school-based health centers, Planned Parenthood clinics and hospitals all rely on these funds to insure their patients have access to a full range of health care," the ACLU said.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois announced earlier this week that it would stop accepting the federal funding, calling the gag rule illegal and a violation of medical ethics.

Proponents of the new rules said they will help ensure federal money does not, even indirectly, help to fund abortions. Federal law has long prohibited taxpayer money from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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