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Planned Parenthood looks to the State of Connecticut to preserve access to critical health care

(New Haven, CT)—Today is the one-year anniversary of the Trump-Pence administration’s “gag rule,” which forced Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) and other health care providers out of the Title X federal family planning program. Title X is the nation’s only program for affordable birth control and preventive sexual and reproductive health care.

Download the newly released report—Gag Rule. One Year Later—to explore the impact of the gag rule on patient care.

Statement from Amanda Skinner, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England:

“One year ago, the enforcement of the Trump-Pence administration’s ‘gag rule’ forced Planned Parenthood of Southern New England out of the federal Title X program. This cruel, unethical rule threatened health care access for more than 42,000 patients in Connecticut and Rhode Island and more than four million people across America.

“Title X is our nation’s only program for affordable birth control and lifesaving, preventive sexual and reproductive health care, including annual exams, STD/STI testing and treatment, and cancer screenings. Title X funding is meant to keep these essential services accessible to everyone—regardless of how much money they have. People with low incomes and people without health insurance rely on Title X to access the critical sexual and reproductive health care they need and might otherwise be unable to afford.

“The ‘gag rule’ prevents Title X providers from telling their patients how and where to access safe, legal abortion, requiring those participating in the program to withhold information about medical care and intruding on the trusted relationship between patient and provider. The rule intentionally conflates abortion and lifesaving preventive care to inflame opposition to providers like Planned Parenthood and deceive people about the purpose of Title X: keeping health care affordable. It puts anti-choice political ideology over the needs of our patients.

“Our commitment to honest, ethical, evidence-based care forced PPSNE from the program. We won’t be gagged, and we won’t mislead and lie to our patients about their care.

“In the year since the ‘gag rule,’ the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump-Pence administration’s failure to contain the crisis has only made health care harder to access. People of color, especially Black and Latino/a/x people, people with low incomes, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are especially harmed by the ‘gag rule’ and face multiple barriers to accessing care due to systemic racism, economic inequity, and institutional bias in our health care system. Those same factors put these communities at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 and lead to worse outcomes.

“Racism is yet another public health crisis. Black and Latino/a/x people are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are three to four times as likely to contract the coronavirus than their white counterparts. Black and Latino/a/x patients are, respectively, 2.5 and 1.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white patients. Any barrier to health care is dangerous—people need more health care now, not less.

“The ‘gag rule’ is just one of many attacks by the Trump-Pence administration on our sexual and reproductive health and rights. Gutting the Title X program is yet another attempt to dismantle and destabilize our public health infrastructure and social service safety net. It’s clear the federal government has no intention of keeping people safe and healthy. We need the State of Connecticut to step up now to protect health care access.

“PPSNE is still here with our patients. Despite the loss of federal support, we continue to provide free and low-cost care to Title X patients—but we need a sustainable, long-term funding solution. We need our champions in Connecticut to provide state funding and fulfill the government’s crucial role of keeping essential, preventive, and lifesaving health care affordable and accessible for all.”