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Title X gag rule is an assault on vulnerable, low-income and underserved communities

September 9, 2019 Category: FeaturedMediumPurpose


This is a guest post by Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In yet another assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights, the Trump administration has forced Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania (PPSP) and other providers across the country out of Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and basic reproductive health care.

Through a gag rule, the administration has prohibited providers that receive Title X funds from making referrals for abortion services, along with additional restrictions infringing upon providers’ ability to do their jobs. It criminalizes doctors who try to provide their patients with full and accurate medical information. It will increase the massive healthcare inequities that already exist in this country, and could have devastating effects for the 4 million people nationwide who rely on Title X for care.

In many communities, particularly rural or low-income communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of affordable reproductive healthcare. Excluding Planned Parenthood from safety-net programs like Title X directly targets communities that are already underserved. Due to systemic racial inequities, the majority of patients in the program identify as people of color, Hispanic, or Latino.

PPSP is currently using emergency funds in order to continue to provide low-fee and no-cost services to all who need them.

Title X was established under the Nixon administration to ensure that everyone has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care. None of the Title X dollars fund abortion services, and Title X providers have always been required to provide non-directive counseling on options to patients, including referrals upon request for adoption, prenatal care, or abortion. In Pennsylvania, providers at Planned Parenthood health centers see 38% of the state’s Title X patients.

PPSP is currently using emergency funds in order to continue to provide low-fee and no-cost services to all who need them. But, unethical restrictions on those providers remaining in the program leaves access to unbiased health care at risk for thousands of patients across the commonwealth

These patients include Sydney, an uninsured recent college graduate in Philadelphia, who was able to be treated at her local PPSP health center for a persistent urinary tract infection. And Jeanette from Springfield, a mother of two and a cancer survivor, who was able to get care through the Title X program, including cancer screenings and annual check-ups. The basic, preventive services patients receive through Title X can be critical to early detection, and ultimately life-saving, as Jeanette well knows.

From our Partners

Our patients come to us because they expect the best information and health care available. We refuse to let the Trump administration bully us into withholding abortion information from our patients. The gag rule is unethical and dangerous; we will not subject our patients to it, and we will not stop fighting against it.

Planned Parenthood’s doors are open today, and they will be open tomorrow.

We need Congress to fight with us. Champions for reproductive health in the House passed a bill including a Title X protection that not only defends patients and doctors by blocking the administration’s gag rule, but also increases funding for the Title X program. Now we need the Senate to act. Congress has the power to stop this gag rule, and protect birth control and sexual and reproductive health care for millions of people.

This Title X gag rule is a direct attack on the patients who rely on the Title X program. However, Planned Parenthood’s doors are open today, and they will be open tomorrow. In the face of unprecedented attacks on the health of the most vulnerable in our communities, we have not given up on our communities, and we never will.

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