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04.13.17 - President Trump today signed a measure which rescinds an Obama-era rule protecting health care for patients who rely on federal funding for family planning services like birth control and cancer screening through the Title X program. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind the rule earlier this year and the Senate narrowly passed the measure last month In overturning the rule, Congress and President Trump have paved the way for state politicians to block people from getting care they need from highly qualified reproductive health care providers.
“President Trump has delivered a gut punch to the millions of Americans who rely on family planning providers for their basic health care needs,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“From reinstating an expanded Global Gag Rule to robbing millions of their access to health care, President Trump shows a callous disregard for our health and rights. We will continue to stand strong against these attacks against our communities and our health.”
In the past few years, an increasing number of states have tried to block trusted reproductive health care providers—including providers that offer abortion care with non-Title X dollars—from participating in Title X. Since 2011, at least 13 states in which Title X funds flow through the state government have approved restrictions that would exclude qualified providers from the Title X network. Mounting evidence shows that the exclusion of reproductive health care providers from publicly funded health programs harms health outcomes, widens disparities, and erects new barriers to care. These barriers are particularly pronounced for those who are already have trouble accessing care—including low-income individuals, people living in rural communities, and people of color.
In response to these political attempts to restrict where a woman can get her health care, President Obama issued the rule last year reinforcing that Title X grantees—which in many cases are states—must select subrecipients solely based on their ability to provide care to Title X patients—not based on the political preferences of state lawmakers. The Center for Reproductive Rights submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services in support of the rule last October.
In addition to dismantling the Obama-era rule protecting access to family planning services, President Trump reinstated an expanded version of the Global Gag Rule as one of his first official acts as President. Trump’s Global Gag Rule dictates that U.S.-supported international family planning groups abroad may no longer use their own money to provide safe and legal abortion services, or even information or referrals for safe abortion, at the risk of women’s health and lives. The policy applies even where women need access to safe abortion services to preserve their health and well-being; the only narrow exceptions to the rule are for women who have been raped, who are survivors of incest, or who face a life-threatening pregnancy. The Center for Reproductive Rights recently published an opinion in The Hill delineating the similarities between the Global Gag Rule and the congressional measure signed by Trump today.