Planned Parenthood, state officials address Title X gag rule

Many college students are aware of Title IX, but few are aware of Title X, which ensures that low-income and underinsured people have accessible and affordable reproductive health care and birth control. In New York State alone, over 300,000 people receive treatment through Title X funding.

Recently, the Trump Administration issued a rule aimed at restricting Title X, dubbed a “gag rule” by critics. The restriction obstructs funding to health care providers involved in performing or referring abortions. Thus, Planned Parenthood has taken an especially hard hit, as it performs Title X services for 52 percent of New York’s Title X patients. The gag rule also directly targets people of color, as 21 percent of patients in the Title X program identify as Black or African American and 33 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino (Planned Parenthood, “Who Does the Gag Rule Harm the Most?”).

The Trump administration’s gag rule would further prevent health care providers from referring women or trans people under the Title X program to an abortion provider, inhibit doctors’ ability to fully share all of the reproductive options available to women, and restrict patients from receiving birth control from Planned Parenthood (Planned Parenthood, “#ProtectX: Why the Title X Gag Rule Is Our Next Big Fight”).

In response, Congressman Antonio Delgado (N.Y.-19) attended Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley’s (PPMHV) patient roundtable on the gag rule to hear from Title X patients. Delgado spoke with two patients who received treatment through the Title X program, as well as PPMHV president Ruth-Ellen Blodgett. PPMHV hosted this event to bring awareness to the detrimental effects the gag rule would have on women’s health care in New York State.

Delgado found that hearing the patients’ personal stories demonstrated the importance of equitable health care. “Hearing directly from Planned Parenthood patients and advocates about the dangerous impacts of the proposed gag rule further personalizes the issue and illustrates how integral the Planned Parenthood facility in Monticello is to residents,” said Delgado. He further mentioned how these gag rules jeopardize the funding that health centers need to provide important Title X services and that he is proud to stand with Planned Parenthood.

According to a press release from PPMHV, during the patient roundtable, Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington State Stanley Bastian issued a national preliminary injunction against the gag rule, preventing any enforcement of this rule for the current moment. However, this injunction is temporary, and a successful appeal from the Trump administration would again put the health care of over 300,000 New Yorkers at risk (Planned Parenthood, 2019).

Communications Manager for PPMHV Lacey Seidman explained that this gag rule prevents women in need from receiving proper reproductive health care and restricts Planned Parenthood from providing services through the Title X program, as Planned Parenthood delivers care to 41 percent of the 4 million people relying on the Title X program.

Seidman further explained over email, “If the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous and unethical gag rule is implemented, the most vulnerable members of our communities—low-income women and people of color—would be blocked from accessing essential healthcare services like wellness exams, cervical and breast cancer screenings, birth control options and STD screenings.”

Delgado released a statement in a press release on February 25, 2019, condemning the gag rule: “It is fundamentally wrong for women’s health care decisions to be influenced by the government because of information censorship.” He continued, “I strongly support women’s reproductive rights and am proud to stand with organizations like Planned Parenthood in opposing this gag rule.”

Seidman asserted the gag rule is a directed attack from the Trump administration on reproductive rights. “In many communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of affordable reproductive health care, or the only provider that offers specialized care like an IUD or the birth control shot,” she said.

She explained that this impact is especially concerning for patients 150 percent below the federal poverty level, who constitute 78 percent of Title X patients (Planned Parenthood, “Who Does the Gag Rule Harm the Most?”).

In response to this controversial move by the Trump administration, President of PPMHV Ruth Ellen Blodgett released a statement, reaffirming PPMHV’s dedication to providing healthcare for everyone, regardless of financial or insurance status, which reads, “Health care is a human right, and patients deserve to hear all their reproductive options, no matter where they live or how much they make” (Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, “Trump Releases Final Gag Rule, Continuing Attack on Women and Families with Low Incomes,” 02.25.19).

Seidman pointed to additional work needed in order to resist the gag rule, and that Planned Parenthood is just one group spearheading the fight against the Trump Administration’s attempts to obstruct basic health care rights. Seidman concluded, “The American Medical Association and Planned Parenthood Federation of America are suing President Trump to stop his dangerous gag rule … We need to keep raising awareness in our communities and keep fighting in the courts and across the country until the Title X gag rule is defeated—for good.”

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