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CHICAGO - Wednesday, August 19 marks the one year anniversary of the Trump administration forcing Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) out of the Title X program through its unethical domestic gag rule. Title X is a national, decades-old bi-partisan program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care for unserved and underserved communities. Currently, more than 100,000 people in Illinois rely on Title X to access basic health care like cancer screenings, annual wellness exams, birth control, and STI testing and treatment. Prior to being forced from the program, PPIL served more than 40 percent of Title X contraceptive clients across the state. One year later, six counties in Central Illinois — LaSalle, Macon, McLane, Peoria, Sangamon, and Tazewell — have no Title X provider at all.

"Without adequate funding, those most adversely affected by the Trump administration’s gag rule are low-income people, people of color, and undocumented folks who already face systemic barriers to accessing health care,” said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of PPIL. “PPIL remains deeply committed to providing uninterrupted access to essential health care services, information, and education for all of our patients regardless of race, gender, income level, or immigration status. Without Title X funding, we are providing more care with less funding, which is not sustainable over the long-term.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing health disparities nationwide, hitting Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities particularly hard. These disparities are being made worse by the accompanying economic crisis, which has put additional strains on the social safety net. Record numbers of Illinoisans are out of work and an estimated 5.4 million people lost health insurance coverage nationwide between February and May.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities that were already struggling and often unable to access needed care,” said Dr. Amy Whitaker, Chief Medical Officer at PPIL. “It is unconscionable that the Trump administration continues to enforce this gag rule and deny patients access to time-sensitive and essential sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, in the midst of a historic global pandemic.”

The domestic gag rule imposed by the Trump administration means it is illegal for any provider in the Title X program to tell patients how or where to access abortion and imposes cost-prohibitive and unnecessary restrictions on health centers that provide abortion––rules that forced Planned Parenthood health centers and other reproductive health care providers out of the Title X program.

Title X subsidizes family planning and preventive services for low-income families. It grew out of federal subsidies to help low-income families obtain birth control as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in 1965. The current program, Title X of the Public Health Service Act (Public Law 91-572), passed the Senate unanimously and the House overwhelmingly in 1970, and was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.