Title X Abortion Gag: An Attack on the Socioeconomically Disadvantaged

Amanda Blakeman, Staff writer

     From women’s rights movements like #Metoo and the call for equal pay, to immigration reform, the deportation and destruction of families, LGBTQ rights in every capacity, to the Black Lives Matter Movement and the rise of racial tensions, it goes without saying that our generation is bearing witness to a battle for civil rights unlike one our country has ever seen in its history. It is more important than ever that we scrutinize all laws, and aspects of reform proposed by the current administration to ensure that we are not taking steps backward in this fight for civil rights progress, and to make ourselves fully aware of the potential repercussions. The “Title X Gag Rule” recently proposed by President Trump and upheld by a panel of federal appeals court judges is no exception.

     At first glance the proposed Title X “gag rule” appears to be a matter for debate between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. This is not the case at all. In fact this is yet another attack by the Trump administration on the people that our country should be protecting. This ban affects the underinsured, minorities, our youth, the poor, the LGBTQ community and immigrants while still offering access to services for wealthy, entitled citizens.

     Title X is a federal program that funds clinics such as Planned Parenthood in order to provide sexual and reproductive health services to women and men. Let me be clear, that there is already a law in effect prohibiting any Title X funding to be used to directly pay for abortions so no taxpayer money is paying for these services. Instead this program offers over 4 million people each year in our country access to doctors and services such as birth control, women’s health, education, and prevention and treatment of STIs. Of those 4 million people, 67% live below the poverty level. 33% identify as Hispanic, 21% as Black and African American 31% as non-white, and 14% speak limited English. This ban states that in order for clinics to continue receiving Title X funding they are not only prohibited from performing abortions, but also from referring patients to clinics that can provide an abortion or even discussing abortion as a potential option. This means that health care providers and clinics currently funded by Title X have to choose between censoring their patient interactions thus providing incomplete care or closing their doors for good. Planned Parenthood announced in August that they refuse to be forced into unethical practices by the Trump-Pence administration and therefore have withdrawn from the Title X program. There are a number of lawsuits pending, and they have filed for an injunction to reverse the law pending their appeal, however at the moment the outcome looks grim for these vital programs.

     This “gag rule” is not making abortions illegal. It is simply making them inaccessible to the poor, uninsured and underprivileged members of our society. A wealthy or insured woman can still go to her private physician and terminate a pregnancy that she chooses not to see to term, however the uninsured woman, the woman struggling with a debilitating addiction, the homeless woman, the teen rape victim, and the undocumented woman are unable to be provided with the same option. Their doctors will not only be prohibited from performing an abortion, but from even mentioning or educating these women about the option.

     Can we all take a minute and consider the ramifications of this? Prior to Roe V Wade an estimated 200 women per year died attempting abortions. If we take access away from our most vulnerable women we will see an increase in self-induced abortions such and physical harm, ingesting poison, or turning to black market options. We will see an increase in drug addicted infants, babies left in dumpsters, and children born into unsafe environment to continue the cycle of victimization. We know this because it will not be the healthy, insured women with good support system that will be without the option to terminate, it will be the women who are unequipped, or unable to have and care for a healthy baby that will be turned away.

     Furthermore, with a large number of clinics refusing to compromise their patient care and at risk of closing their doors to the public entirely, we will see an increase in unwanted pregnancies due to lack of access to sexual education, birth control, pregnancy tests and so much more.  This “gag rule” is not a matter of whether we are for or against abortion. It is a matter of whether we are okay with limiting access to one class of citizens and not the other which has been a recurring theme under our current administration. For more information on how to educate yourself on this issue, support Planned Parenthood and other Title X Funded programs, donate or take action in any other way please visit https://www.istandwithpp.org/take-action