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Gag rule will devastate the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive care

(New Haven, Conn.) – The Trump-Pence administration’s Title X gag rule takes effect in every state but Maryland, after a ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Just yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a spending package that would block the gag rule from being implemented because it’s dangerous, it’s unethical, and it’s illegal––and now the Senate must act. Trump’s gag rule makes it illegal for health care providers in the Title X program to refer patients for abortion, and blocks access to care at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) by imposing cost-prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” requirements. Until the Ninth Circuit court grants emergency relief, PPSNE will use limited emergency funds to continue providing patient care: no one will be turned away if they cannot afford services.

Title X helps millions of people struggling to make ends meet––the majority of whom are people of color and people with low incomes––access birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and other essential reproductive health care. Providers of care to almost half of the country’s Title X patients have made it clear that the rule would force them out of program––the administration is putting health care at risk for patients across America.

“Once again, the Trump-Pence administration is intent on denying people access the basic, essential health care services they need and deserve,” said Amanda Skinner, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “This dangerous gag rule requires health care providers to lie to their patients, putting this administration’s extreme misogynistic and discriminatory beliefs before the lives of millions of people. It is time to stop political, racist and oppressive attacks against our most vulnerable communities—no one should have their access to health care taken away. Our doors will stay open, and we won’t stop fighting for our patients.”

“The Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule is unethical, illegal, and harmful to public health. The news out of the Ninth Circuit this morning is devastating for the millions of people who rely on Title X health centers for cancer screenings, HIV tests, affordable birth control and other critical primary and preventive care,” said Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“Planned Parenthood will not stand for this attack on millions of people across the country. We will be immediately seeking emergency relief from the Court of Appeals. Planned Parenthood will not let the government censor our doctors and nurses from informing patients where and how they can access health care. We will continue to fight the Trump administration in the courts and alongside champions in Congress to protect everyone’s fundamental right to health care.”

The Ninth Circuit granted the request from the Trump-Pence administration to block the preliminary injunctions in California, Oregon, and Washington, which allows the gag rule to go into effect in all states besides Maryland. Four judges had previously blocked the rule, with two judges blocking it nationwide.

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.