Court lets Trump-Pence administration enforce gag rule in Title X program, endangering birth control, cancer screenings, and more for millions of people
(New Haven, Conn.) ––An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused to block the Trump-Pence administration from enforcing the dangerous Title X gag rule. Title X is the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, which serves 4 million people across the country each year. Trump’s gag rule makes it illegal for health care providers in the Title X program to refer patients for abortion, and also blocks access to care through the program at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) by imposing cost-prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” requirements. PPSNE will continue the fight to protect the human right to health care.
Providers that serve nearly half of the patients who get care through Title X have made it clear that the rule would force them out of the program––the administration is putting health care at risk for millions of patients across the country. Title X helps millions of people struggling to make ends meet––the majority of whom are people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and people with low incomes––access birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and other essential reproductive health care.
“This ruling from the Ninth Circuit court puts the health care of millions of people at risk. People of color, people with low incomes, and those from our most vulnerable communities rely on Title X to access critical family planning and preventive health care services. Now, many will have nowhere to turn if health care providers are forced to lie and mislead patients to obey this unethical gag rule,” said Kafi Rouse, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing at PPSNE. “Despite these continued attacks from the Trump-Pence administration, we will still be here for our patients—our doors will stay open and we won’t deny our patients the care they need.”
“This is devastating news for the millions of people who rely on Title X for cancer screenings, HIV tests, affordable birth control and other critical primary and preventive care,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “While we are incredibly concerned the panel did not recognize the harm of the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule, we will not stop fighting for the millions across the country in need for care. Planned Parenthood will keep fighting to block this dangerous rule that allows the government to censor our health care providers from doing their jobs.”
Four district court judges had previously blocked the rule, with two judges blocking it nationwide. On June 20, 2019, the 9th Circuit granted the request from the Trump-Pence administration to stay the preliminary injunctions in California, Oregon, and Washington, which allowed the gag rule to be enforced. The 9th Circuit agreed to re-hear the administration’s request for a stay on July 3, 2019. Today’s order makes clear that while the court is rehearing the request for the stay, the stay remains in place, jeopardizing the care of millions of people who access birth control and other reproductive health services through Title X.
In June, the House of Representatives passed a spending package including strong language blocking the Trump-Pence administration’s Title X gag rule from being implemented. Now, the Senate must push for a spending bill that includes protective language to make sure millions of people can continue to access health care through
More background and information on the gag rule and the litigation can be found here.
PPSNE serves more than 42,500 patients in Connecticut and Rhode Island who rely on Title X funding. In Connecticut, 25% of Title X patients who visit PPSNE health centers identify as Black or African American and 28% identify as Latinx. In Rhode Island, 16% of patients identify as Black or African American and 29% identify as Latinx. At least 52% of PPSNE patients who will be affected by this gag rule are people of color. It is impossible to separate this attack on their health care from the other attacks this administration has leveled on people of color, people with low incomes, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
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.
Make no mistake—the gag rule is a cruel, direct attack on anyone who struggles to get the care they need. This is yet another tactic to vilify reproductive and sexual health care and deny people in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and across the country their human right to health care.