The Trump-Pence administration introduced a Title X gag rule that would take away funding if organizations chose to offer information about abortions. Planned Parenthood opted out.
A new rule proposed by United States President Donald Trump's administration could threaten a horde of services offered by sexual healthcare providers, including non-profit Planned Parenthood. Though abortion is a legal health service in the US, the new rule blackmails healthcare workers into withholding information from patients about their right to safe and accessible abortions should they wish to continue receiving federal Title X family planning funding. As Title X funds are directed toward some of the nation's poorest women so they can avail a plethora of important services, such as contraception, HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing, and cancer screenings, the policy is a dangerous method of weaving so-called "pro-life" values into the American healthcare system. As journalist and author Jill Filipovic, writing for CNN, asserts, "These services save lives. They also help women plan their lives." Without them, we could see a steep increase in unsafe, self-induced abortions and, even more concerningly, deaths.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra affirmed in an official statement, "The Trump-Pence Administration has doubled down on its attacks on women's health. This illegal Title X rule denies patients access to critical healthcare services and prevents doctors from providing comprehensive and accurate information about medical care." After all, abortion is healthcare. With this in mind, 22 states have already sued the Trump administration for the newly-introduced change to the existing Title X legislation.
Of course, the future that is predicted to arise once this law is established is rather bleak. Not only would it stop Planned Parenthood and other organizations from providing access to safe abortions (if they wish to continue accepting Title X funds), but it curbs free speech as the implementation of this law would revoke a healthcare service's right to even mention abortions, leaving patients completely in the dark. Filipovic declares, "That's an unconscionable encroachment on free speech; it effectively gags doctors and nurses from giving patients accurate information about their completely legal health care options. And it puts women's lives at risk."
For all these reasons, Planned Parenthood made a difficult decision when faced with an ultimatum: they said no. Despite how desperately the non-profit requires Title X funds in order to power some of their most important services, the healthcare provider placed the patient's right to information above all else. While this is a move to be commended, it must be noted that Planned Parenthood is one of the country's largest providers of Title X services; About 40 percent of American women visit a Planned Parenthood branch to avail Title X care.
While the organization does administer safe abortions, it is primarily a provider of STI tests and contraception—two imperative components of sexual health. In fact, abortions only account for about three percent of the healthcare provider's services. In comparison, nearly half of their provisions is STI tests and 27 percent is contraception. As Filipovic explains, "Without publicly funded contraception, the US unplanned pregnancy, birth, and abortion rate would have been 67 percent higher. The rate for teens would have been up 102 percent." Therefore, as their funding comes under the siege of the Trump administration, one thing is clear: this was not a pro-life policy at all, but one developed with the intention of controlling a woman's right to choose. "There is nothing life-affirming about this new rule," Filipovic declares. "Its only result will be fewer poor women getting the services they need to prevent pregnancy and catch cancer early. It is a misogynist, hateful, and dangerous step."