WASHINGTON, D.C. February 22, 2019 – Despite mass outcry from the medical community and American people, the Trump-Pence administration today released a final gag rule that undermines Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, and makes it illegal for health care providers in the program to refer patients for an abortion. This puts health care at risk for 4 million patients and keeps women from having information about all of their health care options.
The administration has put health care providers like Planned Parenthood in an impossible position: withhold information from patients or get pushed out of a program designed to ensure that people struggling to make ends meet can still access birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood serves 41 percent (1.6 million) of the 4 million people in the Title X program; this rule leaves their health, rights, and lives hanging in the balance.
The rule also imposes cost prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” requirements on health centers that also provide abortion in an effort to stop Planned Parenthood from participating in Title X.These requirements could include forcing health centers to build separate entrances and exits, construct whole new health centers, or hire a whole second staff of doctors, nurses, and administrative staff. None of these requirements contribute to the health of patients.
The majority of patients in the Title X program identify as people of color, Hispanic, or Latino, and it’s impossible to separate this attack on their health care from the other attacks this administration has leveled on families with low incomes and people of color — such as calls for a border wall, rampantvoter suppression, and other attempts to “defund” Planned Parenthood. For people of color, the right to bodily autonomy and quality health care has been consistently under attack throughout this country’s history, leading to huge disparities in health outcomes between women of color and white women. Dismantling Title X will limit health care options even further and worsen the massive divide that already exists in health care.
Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
The gag rule is unconscionable and unethical. This rule compromises the oath that I took to serve patients and help them with making the best decision for their own health. Patients expect their doctors to speak honestly with them, to answer their questions, to help them in their time of need.
“Imagine if the Trump administration prevented doctors from talking to our patients with diabetes about insulin. It would never happen. Reproductive health care should be no different. Reproductive health care is health care and health care is a basic human right.
“Dozens of physician groups, nursing associations, and public health leaders have risen up in opposition to this gag rule because politicians have no role in the exam room. As healthcare providers, it’s our job to provide evidence-based, accurate information to our patients. Know this — Planned Parenthood will always be here for our patients. We won’t ever withhold medical information from our patients, and we won’t stop ever fighting for everyone’s ability to access the fundamental right to health care.
Statement from Emily Stewart, Vice President of Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Since day one, the Trump-Pence administration has aggressively targeted the health, rights, and bodily autonomy of people of color, people with low incomes, and women. We’re going to fight this rule through every possible avenue. It was grassroots action that defeated attempts by Trump and Republican leadership to repeal the Affordable Care Act and block care at Planned Parenthood. And now, thanks to that same incredible grassroots power, we have a slate of reproductive health champions in Congress. Voters across the country have charged lawmakers with protecting our health and rights — and given them the power to do it.
This rule is opposed by the general public, the medical community, lawmakers, and public health experts. When the rule was announced, more than 500,000 Americans voiced their opposition by submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Major medical associations like the American Medical Association, National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Physicians, and others stand against this rule. In addition, more than 200 members of Congress and 100 public health organizations have come out in opposition to a gag policy.
There is no replacement for Planned Parenthood, as researchers, medical experts and other providers agree. This rule could put access to free or low-cost basic needs — like birth control, and STI or cancer screenings — out of reach for many underserved communities, including rural communities and many communities of color.
- 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.
- Even in areas where other providers are present, the providers often lack the capacity to serve additional patients. Community health centers themselves say there is no way they could fill the gap.
- In 2015, across the entire community health center network, 40 percent of sites served fewer than 10 contraceptive patients annually.
In fact, many of the lists of “replacement” providers brandished by proponents of policies to block care at Planned Parenthood don’t even provide reproductive health care. In Louisiana, the state list of alternative providers included dentists and nursing homes. In Florida, it included school nurses. In Ohio, it included food banks.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.