Aunt Martha’s to forgo $500,000 in federal Title X funds

Agency builds on legacy of advocacy, patient-centered care

July 19, 2019

Chicago, IL:  Aunt Martha’s Health & Wellness, only the second private organization in Illinois to receive funding for its Title X Family Planning program directly from the federal government, announced today that it would begin the process of formally notifying the government of its intent to forgo approximately $500,000 in federal Title X funds.  This action is directly related to the decision of a federal appeals court allowing the government to stop funding for contraception for low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients unless providers refuse to refer women to abortion services, along with other reproductive health care.

For Aunt Martha’s, this was not a difficult or political decision. “From the perspective of the almost 13,000 patients who receive care under Aunt Martha’s Family Planning program, this is an issue of privacy, personal, and public health,” said Audrey Pennington, the agency’s Chief Operating Officer.

Ms. Pennington continued: “Our decision to forgo Title X funding is a continuation of Aunt Martha’s history of standing up for the right of every person – woman or man, adult or child – regardless of income level or insurance status, to make informed personal medical decisions based on complete, accurate information.”

Although our decision comes after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that Illinois would forgo all federal Title X funding and Governor Pritzker noted that the State will continue to fund the 28 clinics that normally receive federal funds passed through the Illinois Department of Public Health.  Aunt Martha’s is not one of those clinics.

However, according to Raul Garza, Aunt Martha’s President & Chief Executive Officer, the agency’s Board of Directors is committed to ensuring the continued availability of all services required of Title X-funded organizations prior to the implementation of the so-called “gag rule.” “We stand alongside Governor Pritzker in his decision, which will allow patients and providers at Aunt Martha’s, as well as those around the state, to work together in a way that respects both their clinical and personal perspectives,” said Garza.

“In the late 1970s, Aunt Martha’s was one of the first organizations in the south suburbs to offer family planning services.  Some people were upset by that, but we stood up.  Aunt Martha’s became a place where people could ask honest questions and get direct answers.  We’re still that place.  In that sense, in this environment, our role has become more important than ever.”


About Aunt Martha’s

Aunt Martha’s (www.auntmarthas.org) is a private, not-for-profit agency providing integrated health care and social services for family members of all ages in underserved communities across Illinois. The agency serves more than 65,000 children and adults annually. It is state-licensed to provide child welfare, substance abuse treatment and childcare services, and has been continuously accredited by the Joint Commission since 1997.