Federal program Title X provides affordable reproductive health care and birth control to millions of individuals each year through programs like Planned Parenthood. Services include STI tests, cervical and breast cancer screenings, plus annual exams. Title X, which is both popular and effective, has, for nearly 50 years, received bipartisan support. Sadly, this changed with the Trump administration, which has imposed a new gag rule. In response, Planned Parenthood has opted out of the Title X program and will stop receiving federal funding.
The Trump “Gag Rule”
To gain better insight into what prompted Planned Parenthood to quit federal funding, Parentology turned to Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The Trump administration just pushed a gag rule on the program,” Ayers tells Parentology. “[The rule] makes it illegal for any provider in Title X to tell patients how or where to access abortion, and it imposes cost-prohibitive and unnecessary ‘physical separation’ restrictions on health centers that provide abortion.”
Ayers believes these moves had the intention of severing the ties between Planned Parenthood and Title X, along with other reproductive health centers. Unfortunately, the fallout caused by the new rule extends far beyond the lack of funding.
The Devastating Consequences of the Gag Rule
“Title X is meant to cover gaps in health care access and affordability — especially for people living in rural or underserved areas,” Ayers explains. “Most people don’t even realize they’re getting care through the Title X program. Planned Parenthood was the largest provider in Title X — our health centers served more than 40% of Title X patients.
Ayers continues, “That’s why Trump’s gag rule is so destructive. While we don’t know for certain what the full impact of the gag rule will look like, it’s unrealistic to think there won’t be harmful changes.”
“In many communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of affordable reproductive health care or the only provider that offers specialized care like an IUD or the birth control shot,” Ayers says. “Even in areas where other providers are present, the providers often lack the capacity to serve additional patients. Community health centers themselves say there’s no way they could fill the gap.”
The effects of the gag rule are already evident in some regions. According to Ayers, the STI rates skyrocketed throughout Iowa and Texas, states where politicians blocked access to Planned Parenthood health centers.
Two centers in Cleveland, Ohio, had to close their doors this past September due to relentless federal and state attacks. There, Planned Parenthood is no longer able to deploy its mobile health unit, which provided health education services on topics like HIV and STIs. Ayers anticipates Utah will see the greatest negative impact, as Planned Parenthood is the only Title X grantee in the state.
The Fight for Planned Parenthood Federal Funding
Because the stakes are so high, Planned Parenthood doesn’t plan to back down without a fight. “The majority of the American public, lawmakers, the medical community, and public health experts oppose the gag rule,” Ayers says. “Congress has the power to stop it.”
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund was created to encourage citizens to implore Congress to pass the spending bill that would do just that. You can learn more at PlannedParenthoodActionFund.org.
Planned Parenthood Federal Funding — Sources
Jacqueline Ayers, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/
NPR: Public Clinics Fear Federal Cuts To Planned Parenthood Would Strand Patients