In reversal, Aunt Martha's clinics will accept federal funds

By Rebecca Anzel
Capitol News Illinois
Updated 8/23/2019 6:38 PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Aunt Martha's Health & Wellness, one of Illinois' three family planning organizations, confirmed Friday it will accept federal funds it previously declined because its medical providers are now confident they can comply with new federal rules on abortion.

The organization, which operates clinics in Aurora, Carpentersville, Palatine and Woodstock, among other locations, announced in mid-July it would forgo its slated $500,000 Title X grant after the state's two other recipients -- Planned Parenthood of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Public Health -- called the family planning program's revised regulations "unethical."


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Title X program and drafted the rules. In part, they do not allow medical professionals who work at clinics that accept family planning funding to "perform, promote, or support" abortion procedures.

Audrey Pennington, Aunt Martha's chief operating officer, said the organization's medical providers had concerns the rule would "interfere with the doctor-patient relationship."

The organization later learned medical providers can tell pregnant women they have three options -- to carry the pregnancy to term, give the baby up for adoption or terminate the pregnancy, she said. The medical provider can answer any follow-up questions a patient asks, Pennington added, but cannot give a referral to an abortion facility.

Besides family planning services, Aunt Martha's facilities also offer dental, ambulatory and obstetrics services. The organization does not offer abortion services. 

Planned Parenthood of Illinois and the Department of Public Health, under Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's direction, still are declining their Title X grants, worth $3.5 million and $4 million, respectively.

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