When President Trump attacks reproductive health care, it’s not people like Ivanka or Donald Jr. who get hurt. Nope. It’s the people who already face poverty, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.
These systemic barriers — plus historical and ongoing mistreatment of certain communities in medical environments — obstruct access to health care. This lack of access would worsen under the Trump-Pence administration’s proposed “gag rule,” particularly for LGBTQ people, women of color, and people in rural areas.
Time is running out to stop the gag rule!
July 31 is the deadline to submit an official comment. If you believe everyone deserves basic reproductive health care — no matter how much they make, where they live, or who they are.
How the Trump-Pence Administration’s Gag Rule Works
The nationwide gag rule would impose harsh limits on Title X, the federal program for affordable reproductive health care. Title X helps people with low incomes access family planning and preventive care like birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment. Of the four million people Title X serves, two-thirds live under the federal poverty level and nearly half lack insurance.
If Trump’s gag rule is enacted, it would censor what doctors can say about abortion to Title X patients and block these patients from getting preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers. As a result, many people would have nowhere to go for health care.
Poverty, Marginalized Identities, and Title X
Poverty is a common denominator for Title X patients, who face overlapping barriers to accessing health care, education, and child care. Think about it: Slavery and Jim Crow laws historically prevented Black people from building wealth. And public benefits policies have long excluded people of color, both directly and indirectly. Today, women of all races get paid less than men — with women of color getting paid the least.
Historic, systemic discrimination has the same effect on poverty in LGBTQ communities. While 19 percent of straight women experience poverty, 24 percent of lesbian and bisexual women do. Transgender people are nearly four times more likely than cisgender people to be in extreme poverty with a yearly income below $10,000.
Because of deindustrialization and other factors, people in Appalachia, the rural South, and other rural areas struggle with high levels of poverty and unemployment. In these areas, the median income ($30,000) is far below the national average ($54,000), and just 36 percent of working-age adults have full-time, year-round jobs.
The resulting income inequality means Title X has a racially and ethnically diverse patient base, serves many people who are LGBTQ, and is vital for people who live in rural areas. Title X helps them afford reproductive health care. That care gives them more control over their lives — including their overall health, if/when they have children, their career, and their finances. The Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule would negatively affects all of these things.
How the Gag Rule Hurts People of Color
People of color make up at least one-third of the people who rely on Title X funding for health care services.
Of the four million patients that Title X served in 2016:
21 percent identified as Black or African American.
32 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino (including both Latinos who identify as White and those who identify as people of color).
Racial or ethnic bias, along with language barriers, can already make health care difficult to access, and an attack on Title X will limit health care options even further.
Due to limited access to care, higher rates of poverty, and other barriers, women of color in underserved areas are at higher risk for many types reproductive health conditions.
For example, Black women account for 69 percent of HIV diagnoses for women in the South. That means they need more care, not less.
Under the gag rule, women of color with low incomes would lose access to reproductive health care providers like those at Planned Parenthood health centers, which are often their only source of care.
How the Gag Rule Hurts LGBTQ People
The intimate nature of sexual and reproductive care — as well as discrimination and mistreatment in medical environments — means LGBTQ people may feel anxiety and distrust when seeking care. Planned Parenthood health centers provide care that’s respectful of all genders and sexual orientations.
Losing access to Planned Parenthood because of the gag rule means people who rely on Title X could lose LGBTQ-inclusive health care altogether.
Here’s why that’s a big deal.
The factors that put anyone at risk for an STD disproportionately affect LGBTQ people, who face higher STD rates. Similar factors cause disproportionate rates of HIV among transgender women and gay, bisexual, and queer men.
In 2016, Title X health centers tested 2.1 million patients for chlamydia, 2.3 million for gonorrhea, and 635,000 for syphilis.
In 2016, Title X health centers provided 1.2 million HIV tests, along with HIV counseling, diagnosis, and connection to additional care.
Because of a lack of LGBTQ-inclusive sex ed and other barriers to information and care, studies have found that some members of LGBTQ communities are actually more likely than their straight peers to experience an unintended pregnancy or to have sex with someone who, as a result, becomes pregnant unintentionally.
Continued access to affirming care, including STD testing and treatment, is crucial for LGBTQ people. The gag rule would shut the door on them.
How the Gag Rule Hurts Women in Rural Areas
The gag rule would turn patients away from health centers in rural areas, where people already face limited access to basic health care. For every 100,000 residents, rural areas only have 30 health specialists, whereas urban areas have 263.
People in rural areas have OB/GYN shortages and often travel long distances for reproductive care — or go without care if they don’t have transportation or childcare.
Title X providers like Planned Parenthood screen for substance abuse and give referrals for treatment, a crucial service in rural areas where the opioid crisis is rampant.
More than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or underserved communities. Losing access to these providers would devastate access to health care in rural areas because other Title X providers couldn’t handle the increased patient load.
The gag rule would be particularly devastating for the one for in four women who live in rural areas.
We Need You to Act Now
We need your help! July 31 is the administration's deadline to speak out against this dangerous, deadly gag rule.