CHICAGO - Planned Parenthood of Illinois ( PPIL ) opposes the changes to Title X, the nation's only family planning program, proposed by the Trump-Pence administration. The changes create a domestic gag rule that will affect thousands of Illinois residents. For six Illinois counties, LaSalle, Macon, McLean, Peoria, Sangamon, and Tazewell PPIL is the only Title X health care provider. However, these changes affect more than Planned Parenthood. Illinois has 95 Title X health care providers ( receive Title X funding ); PPIL makes up 18% of these providers yet sees 42% of the patients. The proposed policy is designed to remove the guarantee that Title X patients get full and accurate information about their health care including birth control and preventative care from a doctor. The public is able to send comments to the Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ) through July 31. For more information visit Planned Parenthood.
"Like the rest of the attacks on health care that have happened over the last 18 months - this gag rule has widespread opposition," said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO PPIL. "Illinoisans reject this gag rule, alongside the medical community, lawmakers, and public health experts. The Trump-Pence administration is, once again, trying to block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood for care - we won't let them succeed."
The gag rule on Title X prohibits doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers across the country from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion. The gag rule removes the guarantee that a Title X patient gets full and accurate information about their health care from their medical providers. Finally, it makes it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
Additionally, the proposed changes takes steps that are designed to dismantle the Title X program by:
creating a new policy stipulating that Title X providers do not have to provide every effective and acceptable method of birth control.
restructuring the way the program has been operating, where HHS put an emphasis on ensuring women have access to all 18 FDA-approved contraceptive methods.
redefining what "low-income" means expanding it to now include women whose employers no longer allow them to have their birth control covered by health insurance, in an apparent attempt to rectify the gap in care caused by the administration's previous rule on insurance coverage of birth control. However, the rule does not provide for any additional resources or financing to help the program or providers meet this increased need.
Title X is a decades-old, popular, and effective program designed to ensure that access to preventative family planning services are available to low income people. It has received bipartisan support from Congress since its inception in 1965. Every year it serves more than four million people, although many people who get care through the program may not even be aware that they are Title X patients.
The American public, the medical community, and legislators have come out in disagreement of these changes.
Polling shows overwhelming opposition to the gag rule. 73 percent of Americans oppose administration actions like the domestic gag rule.
Major medical associations, like the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and others oppose this rule.
The American Medical Association opposes a gag rule, saying they "are particularly alarmed about government interference with the patient-physician relationship in the exam room."
The American Nurses Association stated that this gag rule "violates basic ethics of the [nursing] profession."
More than 200 members of Congress ( Senate letter and House letter ) and over 110 public health organizations have come out in opposition to a gag policy.
A gag rule has never gone into effect in the United States before. The Reagan administrationtried t to implement one in 1988, but the rule was held up in the courts and later retracted by the Clinton administration in 1993 after intense outcry from the medical community, including the American College of Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Key facts about Title X and Planned Parenthood:
More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are located in medically underserved areas.
Research has shown that Planned Parenthood consistently outperforms other publicly funded providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers ( FQHC ), when it comes to meeting the family planning needs of people across the United States by:
Providing the full range of birth control methods on-site;
Filling longer-term contraceptive prescriptions; and
Offering shorter wait times and expanded health center hours.
Community health centers will not be able to fill the huge void if Planned Parenthood is blocked from Title X program, dealing a major blow to health care access for thousands of low-income people across Illinois.
Community health centers themselves say there is no way they could fill the gap if Planned Parenthood health centers were no longer allowed to serve these patients.
The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood's patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the idea "ludicrous."
Across the entire community health center network, nearly half of sites served fewer than 10 contraceptive patients annually.
In fact, many of the lists of "replacement" providers don't even provide reproductive health care. In Louisiana, the state list of alternative providers included dentists and nursing homes. In Florida, it included school nurses. In Ohio, it included food banks.