WASHINGTON — Today, an 11-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit heard oral arguments in several challenges to the Trump administration’s unethical, illegal, and dangerous gag rule on Title X, the nation’s program for birth control and reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association sued the Trump administration in March to block the rule, which makes it illegal for any provider in the Title X program to tell patients how or where to access abortion, and imposes cost-prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” restrictions on health centers that provide abortion. These moves are clearly meant to push Planned Parenthood health centers and other reproductive health care providers out of Title X.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“Planned Parenthood will never give up on our patients. The impacts of the Trump administration’s dangerous gag rule are already being felt across the country. I’m thinking of people who are struggling to make ends meet and may no longer be able to access their trusted provider — including those people in rural areas and communities of color. Health care shouldn’t come down to how much you earn, where you live, or who you are.”
Planned Parenthood health centers had been a part of the program since it was created nearly 50 years ago and had been the largest provider, serving 40 percent of all patients who get care through Title X. In total, the Trump administration’s gag rule has forced Planned Parenthood health centers, eight states, and a slew of other providers out of Title X, leaving more than half of Title X patients without the provider they had been turning to for care.
In many communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of affordable reproductive health care, or the only provider that offers specialized care like on-site IUD services or the birth control shot. People who can’t find or can’t afford another reproductive health care provider may be left with nowhere to turn, or go without birth control altogether. Even in areas where other providers are present, the providers often lack the capacity to serve additional patients. Community health centers themselves say there is no way they could fill the gap. 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." 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. This may put affordable health care out of reach for many underserved communities, including communities of color and rural communities.
The medical community, public health experts, and the general public are against this rule. In addition to the American Medical Association, the gag rule has been opposed by major medical associations, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, as well as 110 public health organizations, and public health experts such as former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, and many others. A group of 19 different medical organizations, mayors, state lawmakers, over 200 Members of Congress, newly elected Democratic governors, and several other governors have opposed this legislation as well.
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.