Concord, NH -- Today the comment period for proposed changes to the Title X program closes. Dozens of New Hampshire health care groups have submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in opposition to the proposed gag rule, which would prohibit doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, and any other provider in the Title X program from telling patients how they can access safe, legal abortion. In addition, over 1,800 Granite Staters have submitted comments opposing the Trump-Pence Administration’s proposed rule.
Planned Parenthood and a coalition of health care providers have urged the Sununu Administration to submit comments on behalf of the people of New Hampshire to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ask that the Trump Administration revoke the proposed rule changes. Additionally, nearly 200 New Hampshire voters have personally urged Governor Sununu’s Administration to submit comments opposing the proposed rule changes.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is accepting comments on the proposed gag rule through the end of the day. Senator Maggie Hassan has requested DHHS extend the public comment period.
Sabrina Dunlap, Vice President of Public Policy of the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund:
“Dozens of health care organizations and advocacy groups from New Hampshire have submitted comments in opposition to the domestic gag rule because it’s a dangerous policy for our state, which has a strong history of bipartisan support for public health. The proposed gag rule would jeopardize the health care of more than 18,000 people who rely on Title X for essential health care services in the Granite State, 60% of whom are served by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. We applaud the policy makers in our state who have submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, urging the Trump Administration to revoke the proposed rule changes on behalf of the 18,000 Granite Staters who rely on Title X for care.”
Some of the comments submitted:
● “Simply put, if doctors withhold information that affects the health of their patients this is unethical professional behavior. To make rules telling doctors they must withhold medical information is unethical and unconscionable. To have a segment of the population, including the 18,000 people who receive care through Title X, be denied information that is provided to the rest of the population is unjust and discriminatory.” National Association of Social Workers, NH Chapter
● “The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, ‘[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.’ (Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992)). When people are unable to control their reproductive lives, their ability to complete an education, to hold a job, to advance in a career, or to care for children or other family may be significantly compromised. And yet this is exactly what this proposed rule change would do – take away a person’s right to make one of the most important and impactful decisions of their life.” ACLU New Hampshire
● “To be successful in their efforts to plan their families, our patients must have access to family planning care that offers all methods of contraception, not just abstinence based teaching. Our statistics show that very nearly all of our patients are sexually active and want to prevent pregnancy with highly effective methods of contraception, not by abstinence and/or fertility awareness-based methods. When patients are given complete information regarding their options for contraception, they are engaged in their decision-making about their health, and compliant in their use of prescription methods. Hence, they are successful in preventing unintended pregnancy. Withholding information that may be significant to our patients’ health is bad policy and practice and will lead to detrimental outcomes for them and their families….We are tremendously concerned that our patients who rely on us for their family planning and related services, including cancer and STD/HIV prevention, will no longer have access to their care provider at a time when other providers in our area do not have the capacity to absorb all of these people into their practices.” The Joan G. Lovering Health Center, Greenland.
● “In 2018, one focus here at the New Hampshire Women's Foundation has been increasing access to prescription birth control. Modern prescription birth control was one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. In addition to promoting maternal and child health, family planning based on prescription birth control has been transformational for women's educational opportunities and economic success. The number of women who finish college today is a staggering six times what it was before the legalization of birth control; today women earn half of all doctoral, medical, and law degrees. Access to prescription birth control is also a major driver of women's increased earnings, having helped shrink the "wage gap" between working men and women. Today women are the primary breadwinners in more than 40 percent of American households with children. The proposed amendments to 42 CFR Part 59 will make it harder for women to access prescription birth control and harder for New Hampshire to maintain its historically low rates of teen pregnancy and unintended pregnancy.”The New Hampshire Women’s Foundation
The proposed changes to Title X are opposed by the medical community, lawmakers, and public health experts. Major medical associations like ACOG, ACP and more oppose this rule. When a similar version of this rule was introduced in the 1980s, it was met with tremendous outcry and opposition from the medical community. More than 200 members of Congress, including the full New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, and 100 public health organizations have come out in opposition to a gag policy.
Title X, the national family planning program, was established in 1970 under the Nixon administration to help low-income people access basic reproductive health services. The program is viewed not only as a women’s health program, but also as an economic development initiative to help build and sustain a middle-class. In 1972 New Hampshire joined the federal-state Title X partnership and began distributing funds to community health providers, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE).
● Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing family planning and basic preventive care to uninsured, underinsured, and low income people, including birth control, STI/HIV services, and lifesaving cancer screenings.
● Title X serves 4 million people each year, including approximately 18,000 people in NH. It is intended to ensure that every person — regardless of where they live, how much money they make, their background, or whether they have health insurance — has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care, such as birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and annual exams.
● Title X funding is not used for abortion (by law it cannot be used for abortion services).
● Title X is an important safety net for people who would otherwise go without health care. This includes communities of color and people with low incomes, who historically face more barriers to care and are less likely to have health insurance.
The Title X program in New Hampshire covers roughly 18,000 women, men, and young people annually. The five Planned Parenthood health centers in New Hampshire serve approximately 60% of Title X patients in our state and are among the only places people can come to for specialized care like Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) or the birth control shot.
According to estimates, Planned Parenthood health centers serve a disproportionate share of Title X patients: approximately 4 in 10 patients (41%), despite only accounting for 13% of Title X centers. Research has shown that Planned Parenthood consistently outperforms other publicly funded providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers (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 (CHCs), including FQHCs, will not be able to fill the enormous void if Planned Parenthood is blocked from the Title X program, dealing a major blow to health care access for thousands of low-income people across the country. Many FQHCs do not even offer contraceptive care, and those that do are simply not equipped to handle the doubling or tripling of patient caseloads that would result if Planned Parenthood cannot participate in Title X.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care for women, men and teens across the State of New Hampshire. We serve New Hampshire residents through 6 health centers in Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and White River Junction, VT. Last year we saw more than 11,000 patients at these sites.
Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.