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Need birth control? Planned Parenthood says there's an app for that

Weeks after a high-profile exit from Title X, Planned Parenthood has launched a mobile app designed at providing birth control and urinary tract infection (UTI) treatment to women struggling to find time and resources to make it into a clinic.

The app, called Planned Parenthood Direct, offers birth control options — including the pill, the patch and the ring — and UTI treatment to patients in 27 states and the District of Columbia. For in-clinic options, like an IUD, implant or shot, the app offers mobile booking to make an appointment at a nearby Planned Parenthood.

By 2020, the organization expects access will be expanded to all 50 states. The app "is working to minimize the barriers that patients face," said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

"Planned Parenthood is working every day to expand access to all people," McGill said on a call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The announcement comes less than a month after the healthcare clinic network removed itself from Title X, the marquee federal program dedicated to providing birth control to low-income women. A change to the program last year requires beneficiaries to comply with a so-called "gag order" on abortion services — something that Planned Parenthood said it wasn't willing to do. The clinic's exit will result in a loss of millions of federal dollars.

Last year, more than four million people relied on Title X for health care services, 41% of whom received services at Planned Parenthood, according to the health clinic.

Though Planned Parenthood Direct was never involved in Title X, providers at the organization say the app will help reach similar clientele. Kelly Gordon, a provider at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands, said some of her patients live in the Arctic Circle and can travel hundreds of miles for a birth control appointment. Now, those women will be able to order prescriptions via the app.

"It can be the difference between getting their birth control or not," Gordon said. "Your access to healthcare shouldn't depend on your zip code."

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