In final appropriations bills, Republican leaders refuse to block Title X gag rule that puts their constituents’ health at risk
Congress also fails to reverse expanded global gag rule
WASHINGTON — Today, Congress failed to include critical language to protect reproductive health care in the U.S. and abroad in the final Fiscal Year 2020 funding bills. Despite dedicated efforts from reproductive health champions, the Labor, Health, and Human Services (Labor-HHS) and State and Foreign Operations bills (SFOPs) fail to reverse the Title X gag rule and global gag rule. Both of these dangerous rules were blocked by the pro-reproductive health majority in the House Appropriations bills, but GOP leadership refused to respond to their constituents who demanded they take action to protect access to health care.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“These gag rules are cruel and unethical, and it’s unconscionable that Republican leaders in Congress have upheld them. These Trump administration policies put access to health care at risk for millions at home and around the world — especially for those who already struggle to access quality health care. Republican leadership had the chance to listen to their constituents, but instead they have sided with the Trump administration and hurt patients’ ability to obtain critical reproductive health care services — such as birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing.
“This fight is far from over — Planned Parenthood Action Fund will mobilize our millions of supporters and allies in the months ahead to build a health care system that works better for women and people of reproductive age and ensures patients can continue getting these services at Planned Parenthood health centers and from any provider they choose. Everyone deserves access to affordable reproductive health care, no matter who they are or where they live. We thank the fierce reproductive health champions in Congress who fought hard to protect access to reproductive health care in these bills, and we know they will continue to fight for greater access to care.
“And to the members of Congress who ignored their constituents and joined the Trump administration’s attacks on our health and rights — you will have to answer for your records.”
Before Planned Parenthood was forced out of Title X by the Trump administration, Planned Parenthood health centers had been a part of the program since its creation and served 40 percent of all Title X patients. The Trump administration’s gag rule left six states with nowhere for Title X patients to turn for birth control and reproductive health care (HI, OR, ME, UT, VT, WA) and forced Planned Parenthood health centers and other direct grantees in 15 states out of the program. The gag rule is opposed by major medical associations, 110 public health organizations, and the general public.
The majority of patients in the Title X program identify as people of color, Hispanic, or Latino. In many states, Title X health centers are among the few places where those who typically face barriers to health care — people of color, people with low incomes or those in rural areas — can depend on for affordable reproductive health care services.
The Title X gag rule is strikingly unpopular — polling shows that voters in Arizona, Colorado and key swing Congressional districts nationwide oppose the administration’s Title X gag rule, and are less likely to support legislators who don’t act to block it. Since the Title X gag rule was announced, Planned Parenthood supporters, allies, and partners took swift action to stop it. Supporters organized hundreds of in-state actions, 10,000 providers and every major medical association denounced the rule, and millions of people have been reached online with educational and mobilizing content. Patients shared their stories online, and in November, Title X patients went to the Hill to share their personal experiences with members of Congress. While the House successfully passed legislation in June to block the gag rule, Senate Republican leadership abruptly cancelled a U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations markup rather than consider an amendment from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that would do the same.
In addition, Congress did not address the global gag rule in the final funding bills. The global gag rule undermines investments in global health and access to contraception and other health services around the world. In September, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations blocked consideration of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) bipartisan amendment to repeal the rule — for the first time this language wasn’t included by the committee in nearly 20 years. This clearly demonstrated the lengths Senate Republican leadership will go to support the Trump administration and its relentless attacks on health care and reproductive rights. Nearly 170 diverse organizations representing domestic and global reproductive health and justice, human rights, public health, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ, faith-based, environmental, maternal and child health, youth, development, academic, medical, and refugee organizations have called for an end to the global gag rule.
Unfortunately, the dangerous Hyde Amendment also remains in the Labor-HHS funding bill, as it has since 1976. The amendment bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. The measure primarily restricts federal Medicaid coverage and disproportionately impacts people with low incomes and people of color.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.