This past June, the Trump Administration proposed rule changes to the Title X family planning funding, aimed at blocking people from getting accurate information about their reproductive health care options. More than half a million comments were submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services opposing the rule, including nearly 500 from RHAP’s community. Despite this, the Trump Administration announced last week that they are moving forward with the changes. In effect, this “domestic gag rule” will bar clinics and providers who receive Title X funding from offering patients referrals and even information about abortion services. It will prevent health care clinicians from being able to offer comprehensive options counseling and require that abortion services and family planning services be physically separated. All of this will continue to place the heaviest burden on individuals who already experience lack of access to health care services.
Title X, which was signed into law by the Nixon administration, is a federal grant program that provides public funding for family planning services, including (but not limited to) contraception, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and cervical cancer screenings. Thanks to Title X, about four million low-income women are able to access these critical services. Many community health centers and family planning clinics (including Planned Parenthood) receive Title X funding. It’s important to remember that, because of the Hyde Amendment, no federal funding is used for abortion services, even if those clinics offer abortion care.
The domestic gag rule restricts clinicians’ free speech and denies patients the right to access the care they need and want. Clinicians not only have a legal right to provide access to reproductive care, but they also have an ethical obligation to provide the best care possible to their patients. The Reproductive Health Access Project stands firmly behind our clinicians who work at Title X-funded clinics and the patients that they serve.