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Planned Parenthood applauds action to protect and expand health care access and sex education 

WASHINGTON — In a move to protect access to birth control, the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations today approved one of the government’s annual budget bills, which includes language(pg. 48-49) to protect Title X, the nation’s dedicated program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, from the Trump-Pence administration’s illegal and unethical domestic gag rule. The “Title X Protection” makes clear that Congress is in charge of the Title X program and will not fund the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule. Instead, Congress will only allow the program to be run as it was intended and as it has been historically run for decades – providing comprehensive reproductive health care without an ideological agenda.

As part of today’s markup, reproductive health champions defeated several amendments from House Republicans that would have restricted access to quality, affordable health care. The committee also adopted an amendment that would block the Trump-Pence administration’s refusal rule, a discriminatory policy that would invite health care workers to put their personal beliefs ahead of people’s health.

Unfortunately, due to steadfast opposition from House and Senate Republicans, the bill also wrongly and unfairly includes the dangerous Hyde Amendment, which bars coverage of safe, legal abortion for people who rely on public programs for their health insurance. Planned Parenthood strongly opposes Hyde, and will continue to work with reproductive health champions toward a world where all people are able to access abortion, regardless of where they live or how much money they make.

Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

The bill put forth by our champions in Congress prioritizes — rather than attacks — health care access. People across the country want more health care, not less, and have elected leaders who are taking charge and fighting the unethical Title X gag rule and increasing support for crucial public health programs like STI testing/treatment, cancer screenings, and other essential care. There are already profound disparities in health care in this country, particularly for people of color, people in rural areas and those with low incomes. At a time when STI rates and maternal mortality are rising, this package is an important step to ensure we all have the right and freedom to live full, healthy lives.

“As we applaud these efforts to increase health care access, we also condemn the anti-women's health politicians who have allowed the unfair Hyde Amendment to remain in place. We look forward to working alongside our partners in Congress  — and across the country — to send a clear message to the administration: health care must be a fundamental right for all, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it.

The full House of Representatives will now consider the spending package, which includes:

  • Protections to block Trump’s domestic gag rule;
  • Increased funding for Title X, the nation’s only program focused on affordable birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment;
  • Increased funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which provides education and information to help young people protect their health and plan their futures;
  • Increased funding for the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention program, which provides low-cost and affordable STI testing and treatment;
  • Eliminates funding for abstinence-only education programs, which have been proven to be ineffective and harmful to the health of young people;
  • Blocks implementation of the Trump-Pence administration’s discriminatory refusals rule;
  • Increased funding to improve maternal and child health and reduce maternal mortality;
  • Provides long overdue funding to the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research aimed at understanding the causes and effects of gun violence.

Title X helps 4 million people struggling to make ends meet –– the majority of whom are people of color, Hispanic, or Latino –– access birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and other essential reproductive health care. Since the Trump-Pence administration released the gag rule, there has been mass outcry from patients, medical providers, lawmakers, and public health advocates –– including AIDS United, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association. Now, Congress is taking action to protect health care for people across the country –– in fact, this bill also increases funding for the program by more than $100 million from last year. 

BACKGROUND ON TITLE X AND TRUMP’S GAG RULE

In March, Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association filed suit challenging the gag rule for being illegal, unethical, and threatening the health care of millions of people who rely on Title X health centers. Recently, three judges announced they will block the Trump-Pence administration’s domestic gag rule from taking effect on May 3, providing temporary relief for patients and providers while cases challenging the legality of the rule continue to be litigated. However, this injunction is temporary and health care remains at risk for the four million people who rely on Title X health centers. Planned Parenthood is going to continue to fight the Trump-Pence administration in court and alongside Congress to ensure our patients’ health and rights are protected.

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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.

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