Nationwide Domestic Gag Rule Threatens Healthcare for Millions in Alaska
Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director, (907) 841-0092, [email protected]
Andrew Everett, Communications Specialist, (206) 702-4357, [email protected]
For Immediate Release: Feb. 22, 2019 (Updated: Feb. 22, 2019, 7:52 p.m.)
Planned Parenthood in Hawaii Condemns Trump-Pence Administration Attempt to Restrict Access to Title X Reproductive Health Care
ANCHORAGE – Thousands of Alaskan’s access to health care is on the line as the Trump-Pence administration attacks the nation’s only family planning program. The “domestic gag rule” would change Title X funding to prevent medical providers from sharing information with their patients about the full range of options during pregnancy.
Nationally, Planned Parenthood serves 41 percent (1.6 million) of the 4 million people who rely on Title X health centers; this rule leaves their health, rights, and lives hanging in the balance.
“This is a direct political attack on health centers that provide family planning services to low-income Alaskans,” said Jennifer M. Allen, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “The domestic gag rule is a cruel and unethical attack on reproductive rights by the Trump-Pence administration because it puts affordable health care out of reach for many underserved communities, including communities of color and rural communities in Alaska.”
Operating 40 percent of the Title X health centers in Alaska, Planned Parenthood serves 74 percent (more than 6,000) of the 8,592 people who rely on Title X services in the state. About half of those patients are below the federal poverty line (less than $12,060 income per person).
All four Planned Parenthood health centers in Alaska, located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Soldotna, and Juneau, serve Title X patients.
“Planned Parenthood won’t withhold medical information from our patients, especially critical information people need for crucial, life-saving care,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “This is bad news for anyone who can’t afford the rising costs of health care because the gag rule dismantles the nation’s only family planning program meant to ensure that people with low incomes can still access birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential reproductive health care.”
Once implemented, the Trump-Pence domestic gag rule would:
- Make it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers across the country that participate in the Title X program to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.
- Impose new restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
- Remove the guarantee that people are getting full and accurate information about their health care from their providers. Title X law has been clear: Health care providers receiving funds cannot withhold information from patients about their pregnancy options. The Trump-Pence gag rule will reverse that.
- The rule also imposes cost prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” requirements on health centers that also provide abortion in an effort to stop Planned Parenthood from participating in Title X. These requirements will include forcing health centers to build separate entrances and exits, construct whole new health centers, or hire a whole second staff of doctors, nurses, and administrative staff. None of these requirements contribute to the health of patients.
There is simply no way other community health centers in Alaska could fill the gap if Planned Parenthood health centers were no longer allowed to serve these patients.
“If Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites in Alaska would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 174 percent to serve the women who currently obtain contraceptive care from Planned Parenthood health centers...” (U.S. Senate Memo)
Other health care providers have been clear — they couldn’t meet the need if Planned Parenthood were no longer allowed to serve these patients. Already, in many counties, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only places that provide uninsured people or people with low incomes the reproductive care they need.
The proposed rule has been met with widespread opposition by the American people, the medical community, lawmakers, and public health experts. Polling from Hart Research Associates showed overwhelming opposition to the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to take away women’s basic rights and health care. Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and others, oppose this rule. More than 200 members of Congress (see the Senate letter and House letter) and more than110 public health organizations have come out in opposition to the gag policy.
“Preventing these patients from coming to Planned Parenthood health centers would mean many are left with nowhere else to turn. Planned Parenthood will always be here for our patients and will continue to fight for everyone’s ability to get affordable, quality health care – no matter what,” said Cler.
More information on the gag rule’s impact can be found here.