Health News Illinois: Aunt Martha’s receives additional $825,000 from Title X federal program

Aunt Martha’s Health & Wellness will receive more than $1.3 million from the federal Title X family planning program, nearly triple their initial award of $500,000.

Raul Garza, Aunt Martha’s president and CEO, told Health News Illinois Tuesday that the organization will use the additional funding to expand their family planning services to over 14,500 patients across the northern and central parts of the state.

“We feel good that we’re able to do this for these patients, and the demand is there,” Garza said. “So we’re happy to step in and provide that.”

With the original award, Garza said they provided family planning services at their locations in Hazel Crest, Danville, Carpentersville, Joliet and Chicago Heights.

With the new funds, they will also offer services in Rockford, Woodstock, Aurora, Harvey, Kankakee, South Holland, southeast Chicago and two additional clinics in Chicago Heights.

Garza also said they are signing subcontract agreements with partner agencies that originally offered family planning services through contracts with the state.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $33.4 million in supplemental grants to 50 organizations across the country, after several groups relinquished their awards due to a new rule preventing recipients from referring for abortions in most cases.

Aunt Martha’s is the lone organization in the state receiving money from the program. Planned Parenthood of Illinois was originally slated to receive $3.5 million and the Illinois Department of Public Health was awarded $4 million. Planned Parenthood and Gov. JB Pritzker said they would not accept Title X funds due to the new rule.

Illinois is one of 21 states that have sued the Trump administration over the rule change.

Aunt Martha’s initially said they would also forgo grant dollars, but Garza said that changed when they learned they could still let patients know “all options” available to them, as long as they do not make direct referrals for abortion services.

Garza reiterated Tuesday that the organization supports women and their right to make their own decisions about their healthcare.

“I’m glad we had really good conversations with the federal government to clarify that we can provide all options to patients. It’s in line with our 40-plus year history of advocating for women’s health rights,” he said.

Courtesy of Health News Illinois