How Trump's 'Gag Rule' Impacts Black Communities And Why We Must Fight To Keep Title X
The gag rule is a dangerous policy that could strip health care away from millions of people with low incomes by undermining Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care.
July 24, 2018 at 11:53 pm
If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s the power of our people.
For more than 10 years, I’ve organized, strategized with, and mobilized communities to defend their right to health care, and I’ve learned that there’s always another fight around the corner. The Trump-Pence administration’s relentless barrage of attacks – including blocking immigrants’ access to health care, ending protections for survivors of sexual assault on campus, letting providers deny health care to LGBTQ people, and appointing judges who would erode our rights – has proven that they’ll take any ground they can.
This administration thinks it can tire us out by forcing us to fight for something that all people deserve. But we see their game, and we’re not giving up. Even after failing to repeal Obamacare and stop people with Medicaid from going to Planned Parenthood for care, Trump is still taking every measure possible to rip health care away from the people who need it most. Last month, the Trump-Pence administration proposed implementing a domestic gag rule – a dangerous policy that could strip health care away from millions of people with low incomes by undermining Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care.
Title X, which serves more than four million people, is intended to ensure folks with low incomes have access to family planning and preventive care like STI testing, education and counseling, and breast and cervical cancer screenings. In a country where racism and other systemic barriers have directly led to more than 20% of Black people living in poverty, an attack on poor people is an attack on people of color. Of the four million patients served by Title X, 800,000 identified as Black or African American in 2016. The gag rule leaves health care for many in our communities hanging in the balance.
Ultimately, this rule removes the guarantee that you’re getting full and accurate information about your health care from your doctor. The Title X program currently ensures that providers can’t use religious or moral objections to withhold critical information from people about their pregnancy options. This gag rule means they can, even when that information may be lifesaving. It also prohibits doctors and nurses from providing referrals for safe, legal abortion. That means whether you’re at a community health center, your local health department, or a hospital, your doctor or nurse would be directed to violate medical ethics and withhold critical information about your own health care, just because you have a low income.
Access to and information about abortion is at stake, but so is the preventive health care that Black women depend on most. Even with the tremendous gains from Obamacare, Black women in the U.S. disproportionately face negative health outcomes – including higher rates of HIV, cervical cancer mortality, and breast cancer mortality. Access to preventive care, including breast cancer screenings, HIV and STI counseling, screening, and treatment, and Pap tests can drastically reduce these rates. But Trump’s gag rule imposes new technical regulations designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get this care at Planned Parenthood.
Even though our health centers serve 41 percent of Title X patients and other providers have been clear that they could not take on these patients, the Trump-Pence administration is more interested in scoring political points with its base than providing people with low incomes the health care they deserve.
While the stakes are incredibly high, a gag rule has been stopped before and it can be stopped again. When President Ronald Reagan proposed a domestic gag rule in 1988, people took action. The rule was held up in court, and the Clinton administration retracted the rule in 1993 after a loud and intense outcry from patients, activists, and the medical community. We need to get loud too.
Through July 31, you can tell the Department of Health and Human Services directly that you oppose the gag rule and believe that all people deserve accurate information from their doctors. More than 200,000 people have already taken action, and the Trump-Pence administration is going to have to sit up and take notice.
We’ve watched over and over again as the Trump administration has taken steps to take away our rights, our humanity, and our health care. Now is the time to take it all back.
Click here to tell the Department of Health and Human Services that you oppose the gag rule.