Planned Parenthood is vowing not to bend to a Trump administration rule draft that would prevent health care providers who receive Title X funding from discussing abortion and referring patients for the procedure. Title X is the nation’s only federal grant program for providers of reproductive care and family planning.
The so-called “gag rule” on providers who receive the grant money would be especially harmful to those who use Title X most — people of color, the poor and those in remote locations who face barriers to care.
“This will harm communities of color in Nevada, as the majority of patients in the Title X program identify as people of color, Hispanic, or Latino,” said Lindsey Harmon of Planned Parenthood Votes of Nevada. “There is already a massive divide between who does and doesn’t have health care in Nevada. This rule will only make it worse.”
“Everyone deserves access to the best medical care and information possible, regardless of income,” said Harmon. “Taking away medical providers’ ability to give quality care that includes information about the full scope of reproductive care available to them is a deliberate and unconscionable attack on populations who are already disenfranchised by a broken health care system. Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada will continue to defend everyone’s ability to get affordable, quality health care.”
Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the rule puts health care at risk for four million women, 40 percent of whom seek out Planned Parenthood.
“This is an unprecedented step toward dismantling Title X,” Wen said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “This gag rule is unethical and unconscionable. Planned Parenthood cannot participate in a program that would force our health care providers to compromise their ethics.”
Wen noted the government has not imposed such restrictions on any other aspect of health care.
“They have never told doctors what they can and can’t say to patients. This is a direct interference with the practice of medicine,” she said. “We will never let government censor our health care providers.”
Planned Parenthood intends a legal challenge against the rule, which doesn’t go into effect for 60 days.
“As health care professionals, we are here to say this rule has nothing to do with health care needs and everything to do with politics,” said Wen. “If you’re wealthy and have private insurance, you have the best medical care. But if you’re poor, you can’t have access to the best information.”
Wen says the Trump administration rule includes “a range of cost-prohibitive changes that have no basis in science, but are just designed to limit access to health care.”
Those changes include mandated physical separations of Title X services from those prohibited by the rule, such as abortion.
The president of the National Medical Association, Dr. Niva Lubin-Johnson, said African Americans make up 22 percent of those who utilize Title X, despite being 14 percent of the population.
She says the rule threatens to deepen “roots of mistrust in African American communities and stop people from seeking life-saving care. Withholding information is a radical departure from how health care has been handled.”
Johnson says if Planned Parenthood were unable to care for Title X patients, caseloads at other agencies would increase by 70 percent.
Latinas make up 33 percent of patients who access care through Title X, according to Judith Flores of the National Hispanic Medical Association.
“This rule has dire consequences for Hispanic and underserved patients, and undermines relationships we’ve established with populations on the margin of health care,” she said.
Activists pointed to an existing disparity in the death rate of African American women with cervical cancer and predicted that rate will increase because of the lack of timely screening.