Opponents of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to restrict reproductive freedom have launched a new effort to generate comments on a proposed rule that would undermine the Title X family planning program.
The program in question is hardly new and has long enjoyed wide, bipartisan support since it was first was initiated under the Nixon Administration in 1970. Of course, much that was once settled policy has been disrupted under the Trump administration, which has prioritized criminalizing abortion, openly disrespects women’s autonomy, and has purposely filled key health and human services positions with strident opponents of abortion, birth control, family planning and pregnancy care.
The new rule — which opponents deride as a the “domestic gag rule” — was proposed on June 1, is just the latest in a growing string of attacks on women’s health care pursued by the White House.
Under the proposal, participating medical professionals would be required to withhold critical medical information about the full range of reproductive health care options available, including abortion, and would also allow program participants to withhold information about some types of birth control. Among other problems, the rule would:
- reduce access to contraceptive methods and services for low-income patients,
- prevent patients from receiving the full range of pregnancy options available by restricting abortion referrals and counseling,
- disrupt the Title X health network by creating more onerous tracking requirements on the separation of their funds, potentially closing much needed safety net clinics
- continue and exacerbate the trend of making reproductive and sexual health care political and stigmatized, rather than a regular part of general medical care.
- insert out-of-touch politics into our health care (more than 7 in 10 Americans support safe and legal abortion access).
In other words, in its zeal to end safe and legal access to abortion, the administration has proposed a rule that would upend the funding and structure of the Title X program, and likely cut off access to affordable quality reproductive health care for millions of low-income patients.
Tara Romano, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC characterizes the proposal this way:
“This is nothing more than an attempt by an administration hostile to reproductive rights to further stigmatize and restrict abortion access, while cynically playing politics with the lives of Title X patients; many of whom are low-income patients, rural residents, young people, and others who have traditionally had less access to quality, affordable health care.”
Arbitrary and politically motivated regulations may leave program participants unsure of what they can and can’t say, as well as leave them open to attacks by political opponents. In order to keep their doors open, some clinics may be forced to deceive their patients. This is unacceptable.”
She adds that the matter is made all the more urgent by the fact that North Carolina has not expanded Medicaid and already stopped state funding of the safety net provider Planned Parenthood — two acts that have greatly increased the number of North Carolinians who lack access to quality, affordable health care.
According to Romano, the deadline for comments to federal officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is next Tuesday July 31 at 11:59 p.m. The department has established a website (which can be accessed by clicking here).