100 Days For Reproductive Health & Rights: Marked Improvements, More Progress Needed
For Immediate Release: April 30, 2021 (Updated: April 30, 2021, 8:30 p.m.)
Mainers can submit comments to end the Title X gag rule through May 17
As the Biden-Harris Administration marks 100 days in office, a period with marked improvement for reproductive health and rights, more progress is needed to ensure affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all.
In its first 100 days, the Biden-Harris Administration has ended the global gag rule, prioritized Black maternal health, lifted unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion and earlier this month, the administration also began the process to formally end the Trump-Pence administration’s dangerous Title X gag rule.
Title X is the nation’s only dedicated program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, like disease testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and annual checkups. The gag rule makes it illegal for any provider in the Title X program to tell patients how or where to get an abortion and imposes cost-prohibitive and unnecessary “physical separation” restrictions on health centers that provide abortion.
More than 1,000 providers and 33 states were forced out of the program; there are currently no Title X providers in Maine and data from 2019 show that even with the rule in effect for only five months, more than 844,000 fewer patients received care than had the previous year.
Prior to the pandemic, one-third of Maine women in need weren’t receiving publicly supported contraception services. The pandemic, economic consequences, and recession have exacerbated the need and the gap in services as more people wish to forgo or delay pregnancy, lose their jobs and their health insurance, or face barriers obtaining medical care.
From the National Women’s Law Center:
In a May 2020 survey of reproductive-age women, more than one-third (34%) wanted to get pregnant later or wanted fewer children because of the COVID-19 pandemic
In the midst of the 2008–09 recession, nearly half of women in a national survey reported that they wanted to avoid or delay childbearing because of the economy, and about two-thirds said they could not afford to have a baby
One in three (33%) women of reproductive age experienced a cancellation or delay of contraceptive or other reproductive health care in the early months of the pandemic—a rate especially high among marginalized communities of women, including Black (38%), Latina (45%), and queer (46%) women
60% of patients who obtained contraceptive care from a publicly funded family planning clinic reported that it was their only source of medical care over the previous year
For many of these patients, delays or obstacles to receiving care from these clinics mean that they may not be able to see a health care provider at all.
In the previous recession, the increased reliance on family planning clinics meant that the clinics faced a demand for services that far exceeded their scarce resources.
Statement from Nicole Clegg, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund
“No matter where you live, how much money you make, or what your insurance status is, you deserve high-quality, affordable care in your community. This is the time to make bold, forward-thinking changes at the state and federal level that will firmly set our country on a path to a more just and equitable future. Ending the Title X gag rule and other proposed changes to strengthen the Title X program mean more Mainers will have affordable, patient-centered, quality health care and robustly funding the state family planning system will allow providers to fully meet Mainers’ needs for affordable sexual and reproductive health care.”
Statement from Melissa Hue, a Planned Parenthood patient and healthcare advocate
"Having a patient-centered health organization defunded leaves people vulnerable, helpless and isolated. It sends a message to not only minorities but to everyone who needs access to healthcare that your bodies are not your own, your health is not of importance, and your voice can be silenced."
Statement from Julia Whyel, Planned Parenthood patient
"For many women like me, there’s nothing political about Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood is our trusted healthcare provider. Which is why it’s so discouraging to see a few politicians doing everything they can to politicize health care and make it harder for people to get care at Planned Parenthood."
More than 1400 Mainers submitted comments against the gag rule in 2018 and have until May 17th to submit comments in support of the proposal to end the Title X gag rule.