CONCORD – Leadership of New Hampshire Title X family planning providers held a round table Wednesday highlighting the local impact the Trump administration’s Title X gag rule is having on their operations and ability to provide services to their patients. The gag rule puts access to birth control, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screenings at risk for more than 16,000 New Hampshire patients.
Participants in the round table at Equality Health Center in Concord included providers, legislators, and a Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) patient:
U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas
State Senator Tom Sherman, D-24
Sabrina Dunlap, VP of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund (PPNHAF)/Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE)
Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director of Equality Health Center in Concord
Lisa Leach, Executive Director of Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland
PPNNE Title X patient Annie Johnson, of Sanborton
U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas spoke about the impact the gag rule is having on New Hampshire patients and their ability to access essential health care.
“The unfortunate reality of these political games is they hurt our most vulnerable Granite Staters: low-income or uninsured patients seeking access to birth control, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screenings. I will continue to do everything possible to fight this gag rule and protect the health and wellness of New Hampshire families,” Pappas said.
Sen. Tom Sherman focused on the risk the gag rule places on New Hampshire’s positive health outcomes.
“As a New Hampshire physician and chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, I’m proud of our state’s positive health trends; but the Title X gag rule presents a serious risk to NH’s positive maternal health outcomes, low teen pregnancy rates, and low unintended pregnancy rates. I urge the Governor to finalize a budget with this funding as soon as possible, because time is of the essence for our safety net health care providers,” Sherman said.
Sabrina Dunlap, VP of Public Policy for PPNHAF/PPNNE, said the gag rule is placing an incredible financial strain on PPNNE and other Title X providers in the state.
“During this time, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s doors will stay open. That is our mission. But time is of the essence, as this gag rule is an incredible hardship for providers throughout the state,” Dunlap said.
Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director of Equality Health Center in Concord, said the gag rule is forcing the center to consider cutting back on staff or hours and limiting or eliminating its sliding fee scale.
“At Equality Health Center, we proudly treat all patients, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, socio-economic status, or any other factor. The Trump administration’s Title X gag rule is a direct affront to our ability to fulfill this mission,” Vidunas said.
Lisa Leach, Executive Director of Joan G. Lovering Health Center in Greenland, echoed Vidunas’ concerns about the impact on her health center’s operations.
“Though the gag rule has only been in effect for a short time, it’s already having a serious impact on our operational capacity. We’re being forced to consider impossible decisions, like cutting back on hours or staff to be able to continue providing low or no-cost services, or limiting or eliminating our sliding fee scale,” Leach said.
PPNNE patient Annie Johnson, of Sanborton, said she’s been a PPNNE patient for more than 15 years and has relied on the Title X program countless times for discounted services.
“I don't know if I'd be here today if it weren't for the services I've received from Planned Parenthood. Through the Title X program, I've been able to access discounted services that would have otherwise cost me tens of thousands of dollars. I'm here today to make sure that patients like me can continue to access these essential health care services they rely on. Everyone should be able to access the health care they need,” Johnson said.
Background on the Title X gag rule:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) introduced changes to the federal Title X family planning program (the gag rule) that have dismantled the program in New Hampshire and throughout the country. The gag rule makes it impossible for providers to offer complete ethical, quality care, prohibits referrals for safe, legal abortion, and imposes costly and unnecessary requirements on health centers that provide abortions. That’s why the majority of New Hampshire Title X providers have decided not to participate in the Title X program while this rule is in effect, regardless of whether they provide abortion care.
The state budget included $3.2 million (over two years) in supplemental family planning funds as contingency funding to be used as long as the gag rule remains in effect, but Gov. Sununu’s budget veto prevented those funds from going into effect. New Hampshire Title X providers are urging Gov. Sununu to finalize a budget with this funding as soon as possible to protect access to essential health care for more than 16,000 Granite Staters.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care for women, men and young people 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 nearly 14,000 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. The Action Fund makes independent expenditures on behalf of or in opposition to targeted candidates for public office. Follow us on Twitter. PPNHAF maintains a separate, segregated political committee and fund to make direct campaign contributions to endorsed candidates (the PAC).