Earlier this summer, while interning in Washington, D.C., I attended a House Energy and Commerce hearing titled, “Protecting Title X and Safeguarding Quality Family Planning Care,” which addressed the Trump Administration’s new Title X regulations. These rules forbid Title X participants from providing full options counseling and/or referrals for abortion care.
One of the key witnesses was Diane Foley, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As I listened to her testimony, I was reminded of my work with RHAP, when I sent comments from RHAP supporters to HHS about Title X funding changes. In her testimony, Foley mentioned that there were many reports of confusion about Title X funds within co-located facilities. When compiling RHAP’s letters, I would read about all the providers worrying about how these rule changes would affect their ability to provide care.
Unsurprisingly, the hearing was extremely partisan. While Democratic committee members focused on trust in the patient-provider relationship, and how access to care would be affected, Republicans stressed the importance of “program integrity” to ensure that no funds would be used for abortion services. Thankfully, the Chair of the Committee, Diana DeGette, tried to maintain decorum, while also pointing out whenever Republican members asked biased questions towards certain witnesses in order to receive their desired answers on the record.
My summer at RHAP helped shape my interests in reproductive health care and prepared me for my Congressional internship this year. This hearing felt very relevant to my work with RHAP.
Jackie Sobol is a rising senior at the University of Michigan where she studies Political Science, Women’s Studies, and Sociology. Jackie interned with RHAP in summer 2018 as a program intern.