Affordable family planning services are vital to reproductive health: women with access to family planning have fewer unintended pregnancies, safer pregnancies, and healthier babies. The federal Title X program provides millions of low-income Americans with family planning services and preventative care, ranging from contraception and Pap smears to screenings for STIs and breast cancer.
Each year, approximately 4 million young and low-income women and men receive basic health care through the nearly 4,100 clinics nationwide that receive Title X funds.1
For many women, Title X clinics provide the only basic health care they receive. Unfortunately, the Title X program is drastically underfunded and under constant political attack. In May 2018, the Trump-Pence administration issued what amounts to a gag order for Title X clinics and providers, prohibiting them from referring patients to abortion providers or even talking about abortion as a health care option.
Issued under the guise of preventing federal funding from going towards abortion care (outlawed since 1976 by the Hyde Amendment), the domestic gag rule is designed to bar low-income women from seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood clinics serve 41% of patients who receive care through Title X funding2 — and other health care providers simply cannot fill the gap.
The gag rule would apply to 4,000 Title X-funded health care providers across the country, including community health centers, hospital-based clinics, and health departments.3
This order is a gross invasion of the doctor-patient relationship. When a provider cannot tell her patient about the full range of reproductive health care options, when she is forbidden from referring a patient for abortion care even when asked directly, the vital trust between doctor and patient is broken.
Women’s access to family planning services shouldn’t be dependent on their income. Everyone deserves to have complete and accurate information about their reproductive health and their options for care.
1. Department of Health and Human Services, Title X Family Planning Annual Report: 2015 National Summary ↩
2. Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “What is Trump’s ‘Gag Rule?’” ]↩
3. Ibid. ↩