Trump-Pence Gag Rule Blocks Women from Getting the Health Care They Need


By Paloma Arroyo
Planned Parenthood Illinois Action


The Trump-Pence administration is at it again.

They’re trying to block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood. However, the latest attack is much bigger than Planned Parenthood. This new rule would be radical departure from the way health care has operated in the United States up until now.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, at a reception for the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization known for their extreme anti-choice agenda, President Donald Trump announced he would be making changes to a decades-old federal family planning program, Title X. The changes are a gag rule. Period.

The gag rule would do four main things.

1. Impose new rules designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.

2. Prevent health care providers across the country — including doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers — from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion.

3. Remove the guarantee that patients get full and accurate information about their health care from their doctors.

4. Remove the requirement that contraception be medically approved and that providers ensure access to full range of birth control.

This is a direct attack on women’s basic rights.

Established in 1970, Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with low incomes access to comprehensive family planning. Title X ensures people have access to contraception and gives them more control over their lives, health, careers, and economic security.

In Illinois, there are 95 Title X sites, 17 of which are Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL) health centers. While PPIL makes up only 18% of total Title X providers in the state, PPIL serves 42%, or 43,950, of Title X patients in Illinois. Blocking patients from going to Planned Parenthood means that many of these people would go without care because Planned Parenthood is the only Title X health care provider in their community. In Illinois, there are six counties—LaSalle, Macon, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, and Tazewell—where PPIL is the only Title X provider.

It gets much worse. Nationally, there are 4,000 Title X health centers, and this gag rule would block federal funding from going to any US health clinic that so much as mentions abortion as an option for women. This means that many community health centers, hospital-based clinics, and health departments would also be gagged from giving patients full and accurate information about all of their options.

This is detrimental for the state of Illinois.

If Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites in Illinois would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 73 percent to serve the women who currently obtain contraceptive care from Planned Parenthood health centers. For example, in DuPage County, PPIL’s Aurora Health Center serves 75% of patients that access contraceptive care from a publicly funded health center.

This gag rule would fall the hardest on people of color.

Because of systemic inequities, many patients who rely on Title X for their health care needs are people of color, who already face significant barriers to accessing health care. About 21 percent of Title X patients identify as Black or African American and 32 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino. After being blocked from these health centers, including Planned Parenthood, many patients would have nowhere else to go for care.

How can you fight back? 

The proposed rule was officially published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 1. The 60-day comment period is open now and will conclude on July 31.

1. Post a comment for HHS here
2. Text TITLEX to 22422
3. Share your Planned Parenthood story
4. Volunteer: email for opportunities to get involved
5. Social media: #NoGagRule #StandWithPP

Paloma Arroyo is a grassroots organizer with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, and Planned Parenthood Illinois PAC.



Important to Elect Dems Now More Than Ever


By Janice Podolski
ACE Health, Education, and Welfare Team Member


At first, I was numb, then simply depressed when I read about Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement.

We seem to be headed back to the 1950s, when wives were expected to have dinner on the table at five o’clock sharp when hubby walked in the door. Father read the paper after dinner, while the little woman cleaned up the kitchen and got the kids ready for bed.

There’s a good chance the Supreme Court will revisit Roe v. Wade if a Trump conservative justice is sworn in. Anti-choice groups have already gutted it in several states, and the president promised pro-life justices on the campaign trail.

When I grew up, I knew families with six to 12 children. Parents were happy if their children graduated from 8th grade and elated if they had a high school diploma. In fact, my father-in-law left school after 6th grade and was expected to help support his siblings as he was one of six kids. My mother-in-law was one of six children, too. Both of my parents graduated from high school, but both were one of five children. Guess they were fortunate.

Well, ladies, at least we have washing machines and dryers, so we don’t have to march down to the creek with our washboards and hang clothes on the lines in the backyard.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday on collective bargaining stated that “…government workers who choose not to join unions may not be required to help pay for collective bargaining,” according to the New York Times. That also hit home.

People today do not realize that most of the job-related benefits, such as healthcare, vacations, 15-minute breaks and a lunch break while working, and staffing rules were all hard-won victories by labor unions. When a union of hourly workers won a benefit, the company was often compelled to give it to their salaried staff, too.

It is also distressing to know that our President has a list of Supreme Court candidates that he was given during his campaign. Not sure who gave it to him, since I am sure he was clueless about what a SCOTUS candidate should look like on paper, but he said he is ready to start naming the next one as soon as possible.

But I intend to resist and persist. The 2018 midterm elections are next, plus lots of lobbying.  We have to clean out the Senate first, because they vote for the Supreme Court nominees, then the House.

Our work has just begun.

ACE Health, Education, and Welfare Team Member Janice Podolski is a retired faculty member from the Department of Pharmacology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She was a registered nurse for fifty years and has a master’s degree in Nursing and Ph.D. in Physiology. She volunteers at Loaves & Fishes Community Services and with PADS in DuPage County.