Manchester -- Last month Mayor Joyce Craig joined 79 other Mayors across the nation in an open letter to the Trump-Pence Administration opposing proposed changes to the Title X Family Planning program. The deadline for submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the proposed rule is Tuesday, July 31st.
The Trump Administration’s proposed changes to Title X, known as the domestic gag rule, released in late May, would prohibit doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, and any other provider in the Title X program from referring patients for abortion services, even if the patient specifically requests a referral. It would also introduce new restrictions designed to exclude Planned Parenthood and other providers that offer safe, legal abortion from participating in the Title X program, which would leave many patients with nowhere to go for birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventive care covered by Title X.
In the bipartisan letter to Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar, the mayors highlighted the irreplaceable need for Planned Parenthood’s services in their communities and declared their support for equitable health care access:
“No one knows better than mayors how devastating it would be to take away access to health care and information from the people that we are honored to represent.If all Title X patients are blocked from receiving the full scope of medical information, it would be an attack on the well-being and economic security of those whoalready face barriers to accessing health care and need it most. People go to Planned Parenthood and other Title X centers because they know they will find health care professionals who are compassionate experts dedicated to reproductive and preventive health care. We know our communities, and we know they rely on the trusted care provided through the Title X program. It would be nothing short of disastrous for the millions of people who receive care through the Title X program to lose access to the providers that they trust and to the expert information that directly affects their bodies and lives.”
Statement from Sabrina Dunlap, VP of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
“We thank Mayor Craig for doing what is right for the city of Manchester and for the state of New Hampshire by standing up for the quality, affordable health care that 18,000 Granite Staters access through Title X, including nearly 5,000 patients served by Planned Parenthood in Manchester. The 80 mayors who sent this letter understand the vital role Planned Parenthood plays in the Title X program, and are listening to the needs of the people they represent. The Trump Administration’s proposed changes to Title X are politically motivated, unethical, and dangerous, and we applaud the mayors who are standing up for public health by opposing this proposed gag rule.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.
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 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.