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WASHINGTON — Today, the Biden administration announced that Jessica Marcella has been named as the Health and Human Services (HHS) deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) administers the Title X family planning program and provides recommendations on a wide range of critical reproductive health policies. 

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

We applaud the appointment of Jessica Marcella, who we expect will be an important part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to protecting and expanding access to the full range of health care we all need to thrive. The domestic gag rule has undermined our nation's public health interests in the midst of a pandemic, resulting in far too many people losing access to health providers. Right now, HHS is charged with not only ending the Title X gag rule, but also with expanding access to and modernizing our standards and investments in sexual and reproductive care. This is the only way to ensure we meet the needs of all people. Marcella is a proud and proven sexual and reproductive health care champion, and will be a critical part of this effort. Planned Parenthood stands ready to work with her and the entire administration to build a future where all people are in full control of their bodies and their futures.

Marcella has spent her career championing sexual and reproductive health care, both from inside government as a congressional staffer, and outside it as a committed advocate. Among her positions, Marcella served as vice president of advocacy and communications at the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, where she worked 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. Marcella’s significant congressional and advocacy experience will serve the Biden-Harris administration well as it works to protect and advance access to sexual and reproductive health care for all people.  

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. But in 2019, the Trump administration finalized the domestic gag rule to prohibit Title X providers from referring patients for abortion. Virtually overnight, it 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 gag rule, Planned Parenthood health centers served approximately 40% of the program’s 4 million patients. After the gag rule, the patients receiving Title X services were forced to find new providers, or stopped receiving critical care through the Title X program.

On April 14, HHS released proposed regulations to end the Title X gag rule and make other modifications to strengthen the program and better ensure access to equitable, affordable, client-centered, quality health care services for patients under Title X. Right now, advocates can submit comments telling the Biden-Harris administration to swiftly end the gag rule so that Marcella can hit the ground running and help end this harmful rule. 

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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.