Administrations are known to remove or amend previous administrations passed legislature to better fit their political agenda, and while this can be seen as a product of a polarized political environment, it should not be a definite reason to undo legislature simply because it was passed by the opposing party. In the case of Health and Human Services, this trend only continues.
Most recently seen in the way that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 was passed and subsequently challenged by the opposing party. While the ACA is important to the way the people of the US are insured and covered, it does not particularly involve the services outlined in Title X of the Family Planning Services Act, and since these services are receiving the same sort of backlash from federal officials as the ACA, it too will face proposed changes regardless of the actual services provided. In June 2018, a “gag rule” touted by President Trump at a major antiabortion organization’s gala, revives a series of changes first advanced (but never fully implemented) under President Ronald Reagan, collectively known as the “domestic gag rule.”
These changes prohibit abortion referral; undermine patients’ right to unbiased, comprehensive counseling about pregnancy options; and exclude agencies that provide abortion using non-federal dollars from receiving any Title X funds (Hasstedt 2018). Additionally, the proposed rule seeks to fundamentally reshape both the scope of services and the network of entities supported by Title X funds. This is a blatant attack on Planned Parenthood based on the way that is happens to have abortion services associated with it. By making is that funding is removed for orgainizations that have abortion services, it is acting shortsighted and not taking into effect the main purpose of Title X and Planned Parenthood.
The Title X Family Planning program was designed to prioritize the needs of low-income families or uninsured people (including those who are not eligible for Medicaid) who might not otherwise have access to these health care services. It is also the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program offers family planning services for about 4 million people, and 1.6 million, or 40%, of these get their Title X-funded care at Planned Parenthood clinics, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The current administration has plans to remove Planned Parenthood from this program and has this move outline in their 2018-2019 budget blueprint. Guttmacher has projected that nationwide, federally qualified health centers would have to take on about 2 million extra patients for contraceptive services even though only 6 in 10 clinics served at least 10 people seeking this care in 2015. Title X is meant to ensure that every person, regardless of where they live, how much money they make, what their background is, or whether or not they have health insurance, has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care, such as birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman exams (Planned Parenthood 2018).
Title X provides a safety net for people who would otherwise go without health care. This includes communities of color and people with low incomes, both who have historically face more barriers to care on top of being less likely to have health insurance. Planned Parenthood health centers serve 41 percent of the patients who get care through the Title X program, while making up only about 13 percent of the Title X health centers (Planned Parenthood 2018).
By removing Planned Parenthood from Title X funding, the administration is effectively removing the top resource that provides all of the outlined services of the program to the citizens of the US. The current objection to this organization centers around the rhetoric surrounding abortion and PlannedParenthood. Reps. Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) sought their colleagues’ signatures for a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging him to bar any provider that offers abortion services from receiving Title X family planning grants.
‘To ensure that the federally funded family planning services offered by Title X grant recipients are unquestionably separate and distinct from abortion, Title X service sites should be physically, as well as financially, separate from facilities that provide abortion,’ the lawmakers said in the letter (Luthi 2018) . The issue with this is that it limits the scope of what Planned Parenthood actually provides their patients. The focus on abortion is not a new challenge for Planned Parenthood but rather one that is a continuous challenge that they face yearly from their critics.