WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard oral arguments in a case that could reinstate the previous administration’s Title X gag rule. The oral arguments are a stark reminder of what is at stake for sexual and reproductive health care in a world without the constitutional right to abortion. Restrictions on access to sexual and reproductive health care have disproportionately harmed Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, who already face barriers to health care due to systemic racism and discrimination.
If the court rules to reinstate the gag rule, it could jeopardize access to affordable reproductive health care — like birth control and life-saving cancer screenings — for people with low incomes. It would also deny people access to information about where they can get an abortion, even when they ask for it, forcing providers to withhold information from their patients.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Despite the devastation we are seeing across the country as a result of the Supreme Court taking away the right to abortion, some politicians are still actively working to deny people access to basic sexual and reproductive health care. Make no mistake: They are actively working to damage the health and well-being of our communities. This lawsuit could put the gag rule back in place, and we should not doubt some politicians’ ambition to strip people of the freedom to control their own lives, bodies, and futures.”
Statement from Iris Harvey, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio:
“It appears there are no limits to the attacks on reproductive health care and providers like us from serving our patients. Health care should never come down to how much you earn, where you live or who you are. For too many people struggling to make ends meet—including those people in rural areas and communities of color— reinstatement of this gag rule could deprive them of care. As we wait in anticipation of the court’s ruling, we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure our patients don’t lose care. Our patients come to us because they expect the best information and health care available. And we will continue to uphold our commitment to providing that to them.”
Title X is the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing affordable birth control and other sexual and reproductive health care to people with low incomes. This program funds essential health care services such as birth control counseling and methods, STI testing and treatment, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pre-pregnancy care, and more.
Title X is a more than 50 year-old program created with bipartisan support. In 2019, the previous presidential administration implemented a domestic gag rule to prohibit Title X providers from referring patients for abortion. The dangerous and medically unnecessary provisions of the gag rule forced many providers out of the program. As a result, the Title X network’s patient capacity was slashed in half, creating even more barriers to affordable health care for people with low incomes. While the rule was in effect, six states did not have any Title X providers, and Planned Parenthood health centers left the program across the country. Prior to 2019, each year, Planned Parenthood health centers served about 40% of the 3.5 million patients who relied on the Title X program.
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 limited electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.