Shortly after becoming president, Donald Trump signed an executive order reinstating a then-inactive policy from the 1980s known as the “Mexico City Policy” or the “Global Gag Rule” that prohibits the United States from giving funds to international nongovernmental women’s health organizations if they offer abortion services or even suggest it as a viable healthcare option to be performed elsewhere. As of Friday, the New York Times and Modern Healthcare report that the administration plans to bring a similar policy to the US by way of an amendment to Title X — a program dedicated to paying for birth control at the federal level. This new plan would leave low-income women without access to affordable birth control.
The amendment to Title X as announced will force complete physical and financial separation between organizations that provide birth control and organizations that provide abortions, leaving Planned Parenthood and other organizations without federal funding to provide affordable birth control, effectively leaving the future of the organization hanging in the balance.
“This is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights, period,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement. “Under this rule, people will not get the health care they need. They won’t get birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even general women’s health exams.”
She added: “Everyone has the right to access information about their health care — including information about safe, legal abortion — and every woman deserves the best medical care and information, no matter how much money she makes or where she lives. No matter what. They won’t get it under this rule.”
Title X was created under President Richard Nixon in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act. It is the only federal grant program focused on financial grants supporting individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services, focused specifically on the lowest income Americans.
According to policy and research organization The Guttmacher Institute, in 2014, over 20 million women across the country were in need of publicly funded birth control, with 15 million of those women living with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
But besides the need for women to have access to publicly funded birth control, doctors groups across the US are concerned with how killing Title X may interfere with doctor-patient rights especially since it guarantees minors medical autonomy from their parents.
In a paper, NARAL Pro-Choice pointed out that this protection helps young women and teens feel comfortable seeking out medical care without fear of parental involvement, which, in some cases, may be abusive or violent in nature, pointing to a series of legal cases that uphold young people’s right to confidential medical support.
While it’s unclear just how this funding cut will affect the health of millions of families across the country, for their part, Planned Parenthood says they will not stop their mandate regardless of legal challenges they may face.
“Planned Parenthood will not stop fighting for our patients,” Laguens concluded. “We will not stand by while our basic health and rights are stripped away.”
(Photo via Mark Wilson/Getty)