Staff Writer/Copy Editor
Planned Parenthood President and CEO, Alexis McGill-Johnson, announced that Planned Parenthood would pull out of the Title X federal funding program last week. This came after President Trump issued a gag order which restricts doctors affiliated with PP from referring women for abortions if they were to receive said funding.
McGill-Johnson stated in an interview with CBS News, “This attempt by the Trump Administration to enforce the gag rule is another coordinated attack on reproductive healthcare. People may choose to forgo their care and even delay their care until this is resolved and that is what is unacceptable.”
The rule, created February 22, is now being enforced by the Trump Administration and the effects could be devastating to the rights that Americans have to take charge of their reproductive health.
The order stated that while Planned Parenthood would continue to receive federal funding, they would not be able to use the organization’s funding for abortion-related actions. Doctors would still be able to talk about the abortion procedure to patients, but would not be able to refer or give any guidance to patients as to how to obtain the medical procedure.
Title X funding is a federal funding grant program created in 1970 under the Nixon Administration to assist low-income families and uninsured citizens with family planning and preventative health measures. The program offers reproductive services beyond abortion such as mammograms, STI testing, birth control and other screening services necessary to the health and wellbeing of women at little to no cost.
Planned Parenthood has long been regarded by some as an abortion “factory,” which is a major misconception. As of Planned Parenthood’s 2017-2018 annual report, abortion was only 3.4 percent of the services they provided, with other services such as STI testing and treatment at 48.7 percent and contraception at 27.1 percent. The latter services completely eclipse abortion as the primary services PP offers.
This is damaging to Planned Parenthood because a misconception like this can deter patients from seeking out care they desperately need.
Many agencies, including Fox News, are reporting that Planned Parenthood was not “forced” out of Title X funding but they merely chose to keep referring women for abortion.
Abortion, especially in case of rape and incest, are necessary medical procedures that protect women and their right to choose. The government should not attempt to limit access or funding for women’s healthcare in general. At the end of the day, it is a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body.
Right now, Planned Parenthood clinics across the U.S. are trying to find ways to make up for the funding deficit, in such ways that would mean higher costs to people seeking reproductive services.
As service costs increase, it will likely start to deter patients from seeking out the medical care and treatment they have a right to, meaning unintended pregnancies could rise and a lapse would be created in patients’ preventable care. This creates more health problems down the road.
In the state of Minnesota, Planned Parenthood serves 90 percent of the recipients eligible for Title X access. A Spokesperson for Planned Parenthood’s North Central States, Jen Aulwes, said, “When you’re talking about the difference between paying nothing and paying 20 bucks for your care, that’s a really big deal for a lot of people.”
She’s right. According to the 2017 American Community Survey, 560,996 Minnesotans are at or below the federal poverty line, which is around 10 percent of the state’s population.
The CEO of Planned Parenthood mentioned that she hopes that this is short-term and that they would keep their doors open despite the funding shortage. They were also already preparing for something like this to eventually happen.
It is not only Planned Parenthood that is feeling the heat of the gag order. Smaller family health clinics across the U.S. that have been struggling to stay afloat will have a much harder time keeping their doors open. Maine Family Planning will lose an estimated $2 million annually because they too decided to withdraw from federal funding over the order.
Family planning centers in 20 states are challenging the added Title X rule in appellate courts across the U.S.
The Title X gag rule is not the first attempt by the Trump Administration and others to restrict the ability for women to receive abortions in the U.S. In 2017, 19 states issued 63 restrictions on abortion rights and access. 15 states issued 23 more abortion restrictions in 2018. This year, as of May, states have adopted 37 new restrictions on top of the previous years stated above.
Along with this, Trump moved to have two Supreme Court justice positions filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both of whom do not support abortion. This further solidifies the ground to attempt an overturn of 1973’s Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade (1973) is a landmark Supreme Court case which set the precedent and legally protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not she wants an abortion, without excessive government restriction or oversight.
In May, Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp signed a highly restrictive six-week abortion mandate, meaning a woman has only six weeks to receive an abortion. Sometimes this is long before a woman realizes she is pregnant.
Alabama signed legislation entering a close to total abortion ban, even in cases of rape and incest, citing that doctors and mothers involved in abortion procedures could face prison time.
What the government does not understand is that they are only banning safe abortions. If a woman wants to obtain an abortion, she is going to seek one out, regardless of if the law says that it is illegal.
One group’s beliefs should never dictate or limit the rights and well-being of others. Abortion is already a hard conversation for a woman to have with her doctor and/or significant other. No one wants to get an abortion.
We, as a rational, conscious society, should be protecting and advocating for the rights of women. We need to stand up for their rights.
Everyone should be doing their own research with credible, non-biased information. It’s important to see what our government is doing to marginalize the rights of our women. We, as a people, need to protect those rights, because a day may come where our rights are infringed upon and there may be no one left with a voice. Our ability to vote is our ability to be a voice of reason.