President Trump and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried over the past year and a half to take away women’s health care and access to the full range of reproductive rights and services that are fundamental to women’s economic security in our country.
President Trump has just issued a new draft rule designed to stop women from accessing the full range of reproductive health care options under Title X, our nation’s birth control and reproductive health program. Title X provides funding to a nation-wide network of social safety net clinics, including Planned Parenthood facilities that provide family planning and reproductive health care mainly to low-income women who don’t have insurance coverage or access other sources of health care.
The new rule would do three key things that take health care and access to more reproductive health options away from women:
- It would create new rules for health care providers that will make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventive care including cancer screenings and STI testing and treatment from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood because it would strip these providers of funding.
- It would force doctors, nurses and providers to withhold information about pregnancy options so that people would no longer be guaranteed full and accurate information about their health care to inform basic decisions that will impact their futures. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers across the country could no longer counsel women about abortion or refer their patients who want safe, legal abortion to other providers.
- It would establish a new policy that Title X funded providers no longer have to provide every effective and acceptable method of birth control approved by the FDA(Food and Drug Administration), a direct reversal of the current practice that ensures women have access to all the options and can decide for themselves which works best.
This latest attack on women is the latest in the long string of efforts to interfere with women’s health care decisions and take away coverage, benefits and options we’ve seen under the Trump-Pence administration that especially hurt poor women and women of color, including:
- Multiple efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which ended gender discrimination in insurance policies and guaranteed women coverage for basic services like prevention, pre-natal services, maternity care and other Essential Health Benefits.
- Taking away no-cost birth control from women by issuing a rule that now allows many more employers to deny women birth control in cases based on the employers’ religious or moral beliefs.
- Slashing Medicaid funding by more than $1 trillion over the next decade in the President’s proposed budget. Medicaid is the nation’s largest payer of family planning services and the largest single funder of births in the United States. Medicaid provides health care for nearly 13 million women of reproductive age including 31 percent of African-American women and 27 percent of Hispanic women.
By barring providers from even talking about abortion with patients and by treating abortion as something other than a basic health care procedure, this new “gag” rule stigmatizes abortion and undermines women’s freedom to make decisions that impact their own lives fundamentally. Research shows that the timing of children has life-long impact on women’s economic well-being and security. Unplanned births can quadruple the likelihood that a woman and her child will live in poverty.
Because this new rule would deny women access to information, health care services and the full range of reproductive options, it has long-ranging implications for women and their families especially since rampant gender inequity still dominates the economy and workforce. Women face a significant wage gap across all industries compared to white men and millions struggle with widespread lack of paid family medical leave and affordable child-care, less frequent promotion and sexual harassment on the job. To make matters worse, proposed cuts to health care and the social safety programs like SNAP and housing will disproportionately impact women, particularly low-income women and women of color who are more likely to be raising children alone.
Across the board, President Trump and the Republicans in Congress are turning back the clock on progress for women and their families whether the proposed rule changes to Title X, persistent attacks on the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid or denying women access to abortion, a long-time legal right that two-thirds of the public has supported for decades.
Background on Title X
Title X is the nation’s only program dedicated to increasing access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care. The program was enacted in 1970 to provide a broad range of contraceptives and preventative health care as part of President Nixon’s historic promise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”
- Title X program is there to help ensure that every person – regardless of where they live, how much money they make, their background, or whether or not they have health insurance – has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care, such as birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams.
- This national program serves 4 million people each year – many of whom would otherwise be unable to access this health care. Thanks to expanded access to birth control through Title X the United States is at a 30 year low for unintended pregnancy, and a historic low for pregnancy amongst teenagers – largely because of expanded access to birth control. We should be building on that success, not dismantling it. Major medical associations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American College of Physicians (ACP) and more oppose this proposed rule.
- A significant proportion of Title X patients identify as members of racial or ethnic communities that often face significant health challenges due to systemic inequities, including Black and African Americans (21%), and Hispanic and Latino patients (32%).
Despite its bipartisan origins as legislation sponsored by Congressman George H. W. Bush and signed by a Republican President and long-time bipartisan support for the law, the current administration has incorporated this dangerous rule change in Title X into their persistent and partisan attacks on Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights.