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 email@example.com 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.