For most of my (safely insured and enormously privileged) life, I didn’t have a comprehensive understanding of Title X, the only federal grant that is solely dedicated to the provision of family-planning funding with a focus on serving low-income populations. For most of my life, that is, until I came to Planned Parenthood to work directly with patients. While the importance of Title X was always clear to me, I had never seen - up close and in person - the fear of receiving basic and necessary healthcare. The fear that comes with an income below the poverty line, or with a stack of medical bills accruing interest and late fees at home.
We can’t forget that Title X is not just numbers. It’s not a bundle of statistics, of percentages, of measurable monetary amounts. Title X is the human beings who need care, as all of us do throughout our lives. It’s the mother of four, struggling to stretch her food stamps through the week, who needs a preventive breast cancer screening. It’s the teenage girl, with no income of her own, who finds herself in a coercive sexual relationship and needs to protect herself with a method of birth control that won’t be noticed and manipulated by her abusive partner. Title X is the college student who worries about his HIV exposure risks, the recently-laid-off factory worker who needs testing and treatment for a painful infection. Title X is our neighbors, our friends, our children’s babysitters, members of our communities, and the many Americans who cannot afford or don’t have regular doctors. It’s their access to human dignity and health care.
Withholding Title X funds strip these populations of the care they need.
At Planned Parenthood, we cannot do that. We refuse to lie to patients about their options, to withhold referrals, or to obscure their options outside the narrow realm of abstinence-only programs and anti-abortion practices. We refuse to interfere with the patient-provider relationship and deny our patients the information that they need to maintain their bodily autonomy. Therefore, our health centers (and therefore, these same patients) are in danger of losing this vital Title X funding.
Please imagine, rather than numbers on a screen or press releases from politicians, the faces of our patients, and the faces of their families, as you stand with us in fighting against this violation of their rights. Health care providers across the country say: No Gag Rule.