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Gag rule would censor essential medical information for women seeking care

With one week until the close of the federal comment period, more than 1,400 Mainers have already submitted comments opposing the Trump-Pence Administration’s proposed gag rule, which would make it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, and any other provider in the Title X program to tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion.

“Trust is the foundation of the relationship between a health care provider and patient. This gag rule undermines that trust by insisting that providers compromise their medical ethics and withhold essential information even if their patient asks for it,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy of the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund. “Since day one, Trump-Pence administration has pushed policy after policy to take away women’s basic health, rights, and freedoms. In response, we’ve seen people rise up all across the state and the country. Planned Parenthood supporters helped stop a bad bill that would have repealed health care for millions and blocked patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood not once, not twice, but three times. We will continue standing up to protect our health and our rights.”

Announced earlier this spring, the proposed gag rule would also impose new rules designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control and preventive care at Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood health centers in Maine treat more than 11,000 patients a year and nearly 44 percent of Maine’s Title X patients.

Title X is the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care; it ensures more than four million people have access to basic, preventive reproductive health care no matter they live, how much money they make, or whether they have health insurance. If the proposed rules are implemented, they would dramatically change the program, resulting with people losing access to care in Maine and across the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting comments on the proposed gag rule. A sampling of the comments Mainers submitted:

  • “Women, and their families and their communities, need honest, open and compassionate health care, and good information about health care.” -- Beedy Parker, Camden

  • “The gag rule is medically unethical and dangerous. The government has no right to interpose itself between my patient and me. We have the right and obligation to discuss any and all appropriate and legal options for medical management.” --Peter Shaw, MD, Falmouth

  • “To prevent healthcare providers from sharing information with patients is harmful to patients. Just plain wrong. The government has no business telling providers what information they can and cannot make available to  patients.” -- Linda Stevens, Scarborough

  • “If it closed Planned Parenthood, there will be millions of people who will not have access to affordable healthcare. Programs like Planned Parenthood have proven to be extremely important in providing sexual health care to young adults most of all, many like myself who did not have any other option available to them.” -- Ariel Thomas, Whitefield

  • “As a woman who has used Planned Parenthood to receive medical care in the past, it is my right as a patient for information that will allow me to make the best decisions about my healthcare.” -- Meg Willing, Vienna

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Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in Maine. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.

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