WASHINGTON, DC – Today, more than 110 public health organizations delivered an urgent messageto Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. The letter states that prohibiting doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers from providing any information or talking to patients about abortion, or imposing onerous requirements in order to exclude providers from Title X, will devastate access to reproductive health care and information for people with low incomes. In a letter to Sec. Azar, more than 110 groups urged him to reject calls to issue a “domestic gag rule,” which would force doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to knowingly withhold counseling on, and referrals for, safe and legal abortion. The Title X program, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, does not include abortion — it covers only preventive care such as birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and annual exams.
More than four million people visit Title X providers annually for basic, confidential preventive healthcare, including cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, pregnancy testing, and annual exams every year. For six in 10 patients, these providers are their primary source of care. Under a domestic gag rule, millions of patients who visit Title X providers would be denied information about safe and legal abortion, even upon their request.
First advanced by the Reagan administration in 1988, the gag rule also sought to impose onerous, new “physical separation” requirements on providers. Given that Title X already bars federal funds from being used for abortion, the policy is clearly only intended to make it extremely challenging for abortion providers to participate in the Title X program.
Title X family planning health centers are a place of trust and confidentiality for millions of people across the country," said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. "Censoring health providers and robbing patients of comprehensive family planning care and information is counter to the mission of Title X family planning program and bad for public health.
Undermining the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care would be dangerous and harmful. Planned Parenthood health centers serve 41 percent of the patients who get care through Title X so if Title X is blocked, many patients could be left with nowhere else to turn,” said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government relations for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “People have a right to access unbiased, essential reproductive health care, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, what their background is, or whether or not they have health insurance.
Those who would be disproportionately affected by a gag rule are people of color, who are already more likely to face high-risk pregnancies due to systemic barriers that reduce access to quality, compassionate health care services and resources. At least one-third of the estimated four million family planning patients are people of color, with 21 percent of patients served identifying as African American and 32 percent identifying as Hispanic or Latino. “Putting more obstacles in the way of these patients’ access to essential reproductive health care and information would only worsen the existing problem,” the letter stated.
The letter concludes by urging Sec. Azar to reject any proposals to “restrict access to high-quality, affordable family planning care under Title X, including the harmful domestic gag rule.” The full letter from the coalition may be found here.
NFPRHA is a membership organization representing providers and administrators committed to helping people get the family planning education and care they need to make the best choices for themselves and their loved ones. NFPRHA works to enhance the ability of thousands of nurse practitioners, doctors, and other health professionals to provide high-quality family planning care through training and advocacy. For more information, visit nationalfamilyplanning.org.
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.