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Ninth Circuit Lets Title X Gag Rule Go Into Effect, Threatening Health Care for Thousands in Alaska

 ANCHORAGE — Today, the administration’s Title X gag rule takes effect in every state but Maryland, following a ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Just yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a spending package that would block the gag rule from being implemented because it’s dangerous, it’s unethical, and it’s illegal –– and now the Senate must act.

This gag rule makes it illegal for health care providers in the Title X program to refer patients for abortion, and also blocks access to care at Planned Parenthood by imposing cost-prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” requirements. Planned Parenthood has limited emergency funds that will allow affiliates to continue care for patients in the short term, while seeking further emergency relief from the Ninth Circuit.

“This rule is unethical, illegal, and harmful to public health. It is flat out wrong. The news out of the Ninth Circuit decision today is devastating for the millions of people nationwide who rely on Title X health centers for cancer screenings, HIV tests, affordable birth control, and other critical primary and preventive care,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska State Director, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “We will continue to fight the Trump administration in the courts and alongside champions in Congress to protect everyone’s fundamental right to health care. The people of Alaska are speaking out and showing their support for reproductive rights, and demanding their legislators protect access to reproductive health care because there is too much at stake. Thank you to Senator Murkowski for supporting Title X and the valuable services Planned Parenthood provides, we need your help in protecting this program given today’s ruling.”

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (PPGNHI) provides services to 74 percent of the patients served by Title X in Alaska, nearly 7,000 people. Approximately 25 percent of those patients are uninsured. In some regions of the state where Planned Parenthood provides Title X services, there are not enough alternate providers that could offer family planning services that are comparable to those offered by Planned Parenthood.

Alaska is a nationwide leader in poor indicators of sexual and reproductive health, including STI rates, teen pregnancy rates, and child sexual assault rates. Alaska also faces a provider shortage. A new report released this week puts Alaska 45th in the nation for children’s well being. Given this, we must expand access to care instead of making it more difficult for Alaskans to get the care they need.

Title X is a decades-old popular and effective program designed to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, how much money they make, and whether or not they have health insurance, has access to basic preventive reproductive health care like birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and well-woman exams. It has received bipartisan support from Congress since its inception. Every year it serves more than four million people, although many people who get care through the program may not even be aware that they are Title X patients.