In January 2011, then-Representative Mike Pence tied a provision “defunding” Planned Parenthood to the first bill introduced in a newly Republican-led Congress. This kicked off almost a decade of GOP efforts to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
In the last six years alone, Congress voted 24 times to prevent patients from choosing Planned Parenthood as their Medicaid provider. And in 2016, the Republican Party added an anti-Planned Parenthood provision into its party platform.
After Congress failed yet again to “defund” Planned Parenthood in 2017, anti-abortion politicians moved on to a new tactic: blocking patients from using Planned Parenthood as part of Title X, the country’s only program dedicated to affordable birth control and other reproductive health care.
For almost 50 years, Planned Parenthood health centers participated in Title X to provide birth control and reproductive health care to people across the country, regardless of income. Since Title X began in 1970, it has served millions of patients — including some 4 million patients in 2018. And before Planned Parenthood health centers were forced out of the program in August, they were serving 40% of Title X patients.
No presidential administration has ever successfully removed Planned Parenthood health centers from the Title X program — until now. The Trump-Pence administration issued a “gag rule” that bans doctors in the Title X program across the country from telling patients how they can safely and legally access abortion. It prohibits doctors from giving their patients full information about all of their sexual and reproductive health care options, and Planned Parenthood providers refused to be bullied by the administration into withholding information from their patients. The rule puts health care at risk for people across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for affordable birth control and other essential care.
Planned Parenthood and its partners (including Planned Parenthood Action Fund) managed to delay the gag rule for more than a year after the Trump-Pence administration proposed it in 2018. For every day that we succeeded, more than 4,300 additional patients were able to get care through Title X. Even though the Title X gag rule was originally blocked by federal courts, it’s now being enforced nationwide — meaning the Trump-Pence administration has forced the direct Title X grantees in 15 states out of the program, as well as Planned Parenthood health centers and other providers around the country. This is the culmination of an aggressive eight-year plan by anti-abortion politicians to block people from getting the birth control they need.
Call Your Senators
Demand that they protect access to reproductive health care, including birth control, under Title X.
We’ve seen this before. In Texas and Iowa, for example, state governments forfeited millions of dollars in order to kick Planned Parenthood health centers out of their family planning programs. This has resulted in less care for fewer people, at a greater per capita cost, in those states — and correlates with higher STI rates in places where Planned Parenthood can no longer provide care in those programs.
The administration and its allies continue to argue that the Title X gag rule is about not wanting to subsidize abortion (which Title X does not fund), but their actions tell a different story:
In 2017, a leaked White House memo clarified Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s plan for Title X: cut the funding in half, and put the remaining money towards “natural family planning” and child care in an attempt to tell patients what kind of birth control to use.
The list of this year’s grantees is the realization of the first part of that plan: One grantee is a first time participant within Title X, and instead of offering a range of birth control options, they offer fertility awareness method (rhythm method) counseling and abstinence-only education.
Congress can fix this, and it must. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a bill blocking the administration from enforcing this dangerous rule, and now we need the Senate to do the same. Call your Senators and tell them to protect Title X funding and reverse the gag rule, so that the millions of people who rely on Title X and Planned Parenthood health centers can get the care they need.
Uncover the Trump-Pence administration’s latest attacks on our health and rights.