WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Biden-Harris administration announced plans to propose regulations to end the Title X gag rule. This action follows the administration’s review of the harmful policy, initiated shortly after taking office.
Statement from Jacqueline Ayers, vice president, government relations & public policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Planned Parenthood applauds the Biden-Harris administration for announcing its intent to end the Title X gag rule and take an important step toward restoring access to essential sexual and reproductive health care. This swift action from the administration is much needed. In under two years, the gag rule has decimated access to affordable reproductive health care, like birth control, STI testing, and cancer screenings. It has severely decreased the program’s health care provider network, put more financial restraints on patients, and actively harmed people of color and people with low incomes across the country — all during a pandemic. We stand ready to work with the administration to swiftly end this discriminatory policy and to create a pathway to program reentry for health care providers who were forced out by the gag rule, so they can once again meet patients’ needs.”
As the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing affordable birth control and other reproductive health care to people with low incomes, Title X is a critical piece of our social safety net that can, and should, help ensure equitable access to essential health care. Title X grants fund services like birth control, contraceptive counseling, STI treatment, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pre-pregnancy care, and more.
The gag rule slashed the Title X network’s patient capacity nearly in half, creating unacceptable barriers to affordable care. Six states no longer have any Title X providers. Before the Trump administration implemented the gag rule, Planned Parenthood health centers served approximately 40% of the program’s 4 million patients. After the gag rule, the patients who relied on Title X for care were forced to find new providers, or stopped receiving critical care entirely.
Title X disproportionately serves Black, Latino, and Indigenous patients, patients with low incomes, and patients in rural areas. Because of centuries of systemic racism and inequities, people from these communities have always faced daunting barriers to the health care they need. Systemic racism and other inequities have also caused these communities the most harm from the COVID-19 pandemic, including a death rate of double or more that of white Americans and disproportionately harsh economic hardship. Access to sexual and reproductive health care is inextricably tied to health and safety during the pandemic. Moving to swiftly end the gag rule and ensuring the Title X program is able to meet people’s needs would be urgent in any environment. But it is all the more urgent as we continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is an important step toward ensuring access to the sexual and reproductive health care all people need, but there is so much more work ahead. Along with a coalition of more than 100 bold, progressive organizations, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda developed “First Priorities for the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice,” a detailed list of executive and agency actions on global and domestic issues that Planned Parenthood expects the Biden-Harris administration to continue to swiftly address.
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.