Planned Parenthood and other health centers across the country can soon reenter the Title X family planning program
WASHINGTON — Today, the Biden-Harris administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the end of the Title X gag rule, which had been implemented by the Trump administration and slashed the network’s capacity to serve patients in half. Title X is the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing affordable birth control and other reproductive health care to people with low incomes. It funds health care services like birth control, contraceptive counseling, STI treatment, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pre-pregnancy care, and more. Now health centers across the country, including Planned Parenthood health centers, who were forced out of the program by the gag rule, will have an opportunity to reenter the program.
Unfortunately, the new rule leaves an opening for Title X providers or grantees to refuse to counsel or refer patients to abortions. This harmful and unnecessary policy could deny a patient accurate and comprehensive health options due to their provider’s personal beliefs.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“The end of the Title X gag rule is a major victory for patients, access to sexual and reproductive health care, and health equity. Title X is a critical piece of our social safety net that can, and should, ensure that people with low incomes can access essential health care without forcing providers to withhold referrals for all of the options available to them. Given the attacks on abortion in Texas and across the country, it’s more important than ever that patients can access their choice of birth control and other health care through Title X — and that it is easily available. That’s why it’s disappointing the final rule will allow providers to refuse to counsel or refer patients for abortions due to their own personal beliefs. Due to centuries of systemic inequities that have blocked access to health care and economic advancement, Title X disproportionately serves Black and Latino patients, and people living in rural communities. These communities deserve access to comprehensive, accurate medical information and care. We thank the Biden-Harris administration for swiftly ending the harmful policy and prioritizing access to sexual and reproductive health care.”
In 2019, the Trump administration finalized the domestic gag rule to prohibit Title X providers from referring patients for abortion. The gag rule slashed the Title X network’s patient capacity in half, creating even more barriers to affordable care. As a result of this harmful rule, six states no longer have any Title X providers, and Planned Parenthood health centers were forced out of the program. Prior to 2019, each year, Planned Parenthood health centers served about 40% of the 4 million patients who relied on the Title X program.
The announcement of today’s final rule comes after more than 140,000 comments were submitted by sexual and reproductive health care supporters underlining the critical role of Title X and the harm the gag rule has caused. Planned Parenthood Federation of America used the comment period to emphasize how the gag rule has harmed patients and to push for a swift repeal. Now, Planned Parenthood health centers and other providers across the country forced out of Title X by the gag rule are looking forward to returning to the program.
The now-final regulations also include modifications to strengthen Title X and expand access to equitable, affordable, high-quality patient-centered health services. Moving forward, there must be robust funding for the Title X program in the final fiscal year 2022 appropriations package.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all 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, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.