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Censoring providers jeopardizes patient health and safety  

Today the Trump Administration's announced plans to implement a domestic gag rule for federal Title X funding, a dangerous policy that would gut the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England providers and Maine Family Planning providers strongly condemned the action and warned it will jeopardize patient health and safety.

“My patients rely on me to provide unbiased medical information in a nonjudgmental, safe environment,” said Alison Bates, a nurse practitioner for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “A gag rule violates the trust of the patient-provider relationship. Forcing providers to withhold important information from our patients jeopardizes our patient’s health and safety and fails to fulfill the purpose of the Title X program.”

Title X, the nation’s largest family planning funding program, was created to provide “educational, comprehensive medical, and social services necessary to aid individuals to freely determine the number and spacing of their children.”

In Maine, more than 22,000 patients rely on Title X for basic preventive health care, including family planning, cancer screenings, and annual exams. The four Planned Parenthood health centers in Maine see approximately 44% of Title X patients.

“A domestic gag rule would essentially dismantle the Title X program as we know it -- jeopardizing affordable birth control and reproductive health care for 4 million people, including 22,000 Mainers,” said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “Everyone, regardless of their race, their income, or where they live, deserves the best medical care and information available. Under this rule, they won’t get it.”

The Gag Rule will do two things:

  1. Keep patients from their health care providers by imposing new rules designed to make it impossible for reproductive health providers like Planned Parenthood to serve patients in the program; and

  2. “gag” health care providers by taking funds away unless the provider agrees to never talk to patients about, provide any information on, or even answer any questions about abortion.

Research has shown that Planned Parenthood consistently outperforms other publicly funded providers, including FQHCs, when it comes to meeting the family planning needs of people across the United States by:

  • Providing the full range of birth control methods on-site;

  • Filling longer-term contraceptive prescriptions; and

  • Offering shorter wait times and expanded health center hours.

Community health centers will not be able to fill the huge void if Planned Parenthood is blocked from Title X program, dealing a major blow to health care access for thousands of low-income people across the country.

  • Even among Title X-participating CHCs, only 64 percent of Title X CHCs provided IUDs and implants whereas 98% of Planned Parenthood health centers offer these longer-acting methods.

  • Across the entire Community Health Center network, nearly half of sites served fewer than 10 contraceptive patients annually.

The Domestic Gag Rule is the latest attack in the Trump Administration’s comprehensive campaign to undermine women’s health and rights:

The Trump-Pence administration has pushed its abstinence-only-until-marriage agenda by:

  • Putting Valerie Huber, who most recently served as president and CEO of Ascend, formerly called “National Abstinence Education Association,” in charge of the TPPP program and Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care.

  • Presenting an extreme agenda to the the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women on abortion, contraception, and sexual education. The U.S.’s anti-women’s health agenda was so extreme that was more conservative that it was “further to the right than those expressed by most other countries present, including Russia and the representative for the Arab states.”

  • Favoring health care providers that push patients to return to a “sexually risk free status”and  promoting abstinence only until marriage in the Title X FOA that was released in February.

  • Abruptly ending prior grants for TPPP.

  • Outlining priorities in the TPPP funding announcement that require program participants to emphasize priorities that that emphasize “sexual risk avoidance” (also known as abstinence only until marriage) and “cessation support” for adolescents who are sexually active.

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