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Organizations who offer reproductive services in areas with limited options for low-income Latinas and other women of color are dealing with a new Trump administration rule that can limit clinics’ access to federal funding, making it harder to offer affordable care to women, NBC News reports.
The “gag rule,” named because advocates say it hinders a doctor’s ability to provide the care they think is best, went into effect August 2019.
The rule states that family planning services that get Title X federal funding must also be financially detached from any abortion services. Abortion and Title X services also must take place in separate facilities.
However, federal law already forbids taxpayer funds to be used for abortions, excluding cases of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life. Clinics like Planned Parenthood, which had used Title X funding to offer health care to low-income patients, has now withdrawn from Title X.
“Our bodies and our health have become political pawns,” Lucy Ceballos Félix, field advocacy leader with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in Texas’ mainly Latino Rio Grande Valley, told NBC News‘ Nicole Acevedo.
What is Title X?
Founded in 1970, Title X fights health care inequity by offering affordable birth control and reproductive health care to people with low incomes. These people couldn’t otherwise afford health care services on their own, according to Planned Parenthood.
33% of Title X patients are Latino and 22% are black, according to the U.S. health and Human Services.
Additionally, 65% had family incomes at or below the poverty level and limited English proficiency.
Title X provides services such as:
- Wellness exams
- Lifesaving cervical & breast cancer screenings
- Birth control
- Contraception education
- Testing & treatment for sexually transmitted diseases as well as HIV testing
However, even with the new rule, federal allotments to Title X will remain the same. No money is being cut.
Controversy around Title X
For almost 20 years, health care providers could not withhold information from you about your pregnancy options due to Title X.
The new rule means they can withhold this information. It makes it criminal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, and any other provider in the Title X program to tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion.
An additional consequence of the gag rule could be that millions of people will not get the health care they need — birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even basic wellness exams.
Planned Parenthood had this message to the Trump Administration: Title X is absolutely essential to ensure that millions of women, men, and young people get the care they need. Without it, providers can’t meet the demand for health care.
“The domestic gag rule is tragic, and its collateral damage would take years to fix,” Ginny Ehrlich, chief executive at Power to Decide, told NBC News. “No one benefits when women can’t get information in order to get pregnant on their own terms. Families thrive when women are able to plan their families.”
Proponents of the new rule say it won’t have such an impact on women’s health.
“But if abortion were indeed such a small and insignificant part of Planned Parenthood’s grand mission, as we are assured, would it be such a sacrifice to financially separate it from the rest of the business?” asked a writer for the National Review. “If women’s health-care needs were so dire, and the Title X program were so essential to the group’s success, surely it would be a price worth paying. Planned Parenthood has decided that it is not.”
Latina Health Inequity
Latinas suffering from health inequities are nothing new.
Lack of paid leave and other economic support contributes to health and economic disparities among Latinas, Latinos, and low-income families.
Even with paid maternity leave, Latinas are less likely to utilize it compared to their white and black counterparts.
Furthermore, in many states such as Texas, the rate of uninsured childbearing-age women is more than double the national average. Other states include Florida and Nevada, who, too, have a high population.
Learn about ways to improve Latina maternal and child health!