by Jacqueline Tosto, SisterLove, Inc. If/When/How Law and Policy Fellow
Clinics across the United States that provide family planning rely on Title X grants, which allow them to offer services to patients on a sliding, income-based scale. Title X grants cover a broad array of services that are considered “family planning,” including contraceptive services, supplies, and information; breast and cervical cancer screenings; and STI prevention, testing, and treatment. In 2017, 3.6 million people were financially assisted by Title X subsidies. A total of 4 million Americans obtained services at clinics receiving Title X grants.
In mid 2019, the Trump Administration instituted a nationwide gag rule on Title X funding. The new rule prioritizes natural family planning and abstinence, especially for adolescents, and imposes new barriers to abortion access. Clinics that only offer natural family planning—and FDA-approved method of contraception—are eligible for grants. Clinics are prohibited from referring patients to abortion providers unless patients state that they wish to terminate their pregnancies and that this decision unprompted by clinic staff. Clinic staff however, are now able to refuse to refer patients to abortion providers if they personally object to the procedure on “moral” grounds. Clinic staff are also now required to document that they attempted to involve family members in the family planning decisions of minors, which can put many minors at risk who may be being abused by a family member or would not like their parent or guardian to know of their sexual activity.
This rule is incredibly harmful and during a time when many people have lost their jobs and employee sponsored health insurance, affordable family planning is necessary. Many clinics have been forced to take less patients due to cost or shut down completely. Fill out this form to tell your representatives to reverse these changes and protect Title X.
SisterLove, Inc. is a partner organization of In Our Own Voice: National Reproductive Justice Agenda. To learn more about them visit https://www.sisterlove.org/.