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Access to birth control and preventive reproductive health care would drop across the country

Washington, DC - New research out today shows that the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous new gag rule could mean that upwards of 60 percent of some states’ residents currently getting care through Title X could lose access to essential services like birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment. 

“Let’s be clear: This rule isn’t about improving women’s health. Not one bit. It’s about putting Vice President Pence’s extreme beliefs in the doctor’s office — where they simply have no place — and about trying to make women’s health care choices for them,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “But that’s not something I’m going to accept, and I know women across the country aren’t going to accept it either, because at the end of the day, a woman’s ability to make the health care choices that are right for her is fundamental to her economic security, her independence, and her ability to shape her own future.” 

Title X is the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, which four million people depend on each year for birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and other preventive reproductive health care.

The gag rule makes it illegal for any doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, or any other provider that serves patients through Title X to tell their patients how to safely and legally access abortion. It would also introduce new restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to access birth control at Planned Parenthood health centers. 

The research, which was released today by the Senate HELP Committee, demonstrates that this dangerous rule would have a devastating impact on access to health care for many women. For example:

  • In Arizona, Title X-funded sites delivered contraceptive care to 31,820 women, and Planned Parenthood health centers served 53 percent of these women.
  • In Alaska, if Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites in the state would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 174 percent to serve the women who currently obtain contraceptive care from Planned Parenthood health centers.
  • In Michigan, if Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 152 percent to serve the women who currently obtain contraceptive care from Planned Parenthood health centers.
  • In Wisconsin, Title X‒funded sites delivered contraceptive care to 30,850 women, and  Title X-supported Planned Parenthood health centers served 79 percent of these women.

“This research clearly shows what medical experts and women across the country already know: Planned Parenthood is part of the fabric of our nation’s health care system and this Trump-Pence rulewould be devastating for patients,” said Dana Singiser, vice president for government relations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “No woman should be denied basic information about her health care — including safe and legal abortion. The result of this rule is that people will not get the health care they need. They won’t get birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even general women’s health exams. This is the largest-scale and most dangerous attack we’ve seen on women’s rights and reproductive health care from this administration.”

The rule has been met with widespread opposition by the American people, the medical community, lawmakers, and public health experts. New polling from Hart Research Associates showedoverwhelming opposition to the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to take away women’s basic rights and health care. Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and others, oppose this rule. More than 200 members of Congress (see the Senate letter and House letter) and over 110 public health organizations have come out in opposition to the gag policy. 

Key facts about Title X and Planned Parenthood:

  • According to latest estimates, Planned Parenthood health centers served four in 10 Title X patients (41 percent) in 2015, despite only accounting for 13 percent of Title X centers.
  • In 14 states, Planned Parenthood serve more than 50 percent of the Title X patients in their states, including in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin, Utah, and Vermont. 
     
  • More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are located in medically underserved areas.
  • Research has shown that Planned Parenthood consistently outperforms other publicly funded providers, including FQHCs, when it comes to meeting the family planning needs of people across the United States by:
    • Providing the full range of birth control methods on-site;
    • Filling longer-term contraceptive prescriptions; and
    • Offering shorter wait times and expanded health center hours.
       
  • Community health centers will not be able to fill the huge void if Planned Parenthood is blocked from Title X program, dealing a major blow to health care access for thousands of low-income people across the country.
    • Community health centers themselves say there is no way they could fill the gap if Planned Parenthood health centers were no longer allowed to serve these patients.
    • The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the idea “ludicrous."
    • Across the entire community health center network, nearly half of sites served fewer than 10 contraceptive patients annually.
    • In fact, many of the lists of “replacement” providers 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.

The Gag Rule has been met with immediate and widespread opposition:

This gag rule has been rejected by the American public:

  • New polling by Hart Research Associates shows that the 73 percent of Americans oppose the gag rule and policies the Trump-Pence Administration has pushed take away women’s basic rights to health care.
  • Hundreds rallied outside of nearly every HHS building across the country to protestTrump’s domestic gag rule.
  • Dozens of protests are scheduled for Memorial Day recess outside of Member of Congress’s offices to demand elected officials to oppose the gag rule.

 The gag rule has been rejected by the medical community:

  • Major medical associations like the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and more oppose this rule. In a press release, the AMA president said: “Gag orders that restrict the ability of physicians to explain all options to their patients and refer them—whatever their health care needs—compromise this relationship and force physicians and nurses to withhold information that their patients need to make decisions about their care.”
  • 100 public health organizations have come out in opposition to a gag policy. 

The gag rule has been rejected by elected officials:

Editorial boards across the country have slammed the gag rule:

The gag rule will have political consequences:

  • Amy Walter, National Editor of Cook Political Report told Face the Nation that the domesticgag rule would have an impact on the midterms, saying she expects "Planned Parenthood will play a starring role" in key districts across the country and that this policy could be "more definitive in favor of Democrats than it is in favor of Republicans."
  • Jamelle Bouie, Chief Political Correspondent at Slate remarked that the dometic gag will"energize" a "core group of democratic activists."
  • The latest Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that women’s rights and health care is a top motivating issue for the unprecedented number of Americans getting involved in politics.
  • The gag rule is going to motivate young people and women, two of the most critical voting blocs in this election. If women and young people turn out and vote in 2018, Dan Balz of the Washington Post declares that Democrats are going to have a huge edge.

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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.