All Oversight Committee Democrats Seek Documents from HHS on Gag Rule for Title X National Family Planning Program
Washington, D.C. (June 20, 2018)—Today, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings and all Democrats on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting documents on the proposed gag rule for the Title X National Family Planning Program, which would impede women’s access to critical information about their healthcare.
“We are writing to request documents relating to the harmful gag rule you recently proposed for the Title X National Family Planning Program, which is the Trump Administration’s latest effort to prevent women from obtaining critical information about their health care and to damage and degrade their access to comprehensive and quality medical care,” the Members wrote.
On June 1, 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a rule to severely restrict the activities of health care providers receiving Title X funds by:
- preventing providers from fully informing women about their health care options or referring them to other qualified healthcare providers for abortion services;
- requiring providers who offer abortions to have fully separate staff, resources, and facilities for their abortion services if they want to receive any Title X funds for other reproductive health services;
- eliminating the requirement that Title X health care providers offer all forms of acceptable birth control as long as they are “medically approved,” instead prioritizing “natural” family planning methods;
- impeding women’s access to family planning resources and opening the door to unproven and ineffective methods of birth control;
- ensuring that women have fewer health care providers to rely on for comprehensive reproductive health care;
- resulting in fewer providers receiving funding to provide care for low-income Title X patients; and
- limiting the information providers are able to provide their patients about the medical options available to them.
“The Trump Administration has claimed that this rule is necessary to ‘ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions,’ but public programs, including under Title X, are already prohibited from using federal funds for abortion services,” the Members wrote. “This is yet another example of the Trump Administration attempting to curtail the reproductive rights of women and their access to information.”
The Title X National Family Planning Program was created in 1970 to provide low-income individuals with the information and assistance necessary to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Title X funds provide patients with access to comprehensive counseling, treatment, and, where necessary, referrals for other services. In 2016, Title X programs provided critical health care services, including breast cancer screenings and HIV testing, to more than 4 million individuals, 55% of whom were uninsured.
This is not the first time the Trump Administration has sought to curtail the reproductive rights of women and their access to information.
In February, Cummings wrote to Deputy Secretary Hargan regarding documents from a whistleblower indicating that an extreme right-wing anti-choice group called Alliance Defending Freedom was behind an effort to allow states to terminate family planning providers from their Medicaid programs. In April, Cummings wrote to Azar regarding the decision to scrub information about breast cancer, preventative services guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, and LGBTQ health issues from the website of the Office of Women’s Health.
Click here to read today’s letter.