Title X “gag rule” causes concern

By Ana Piña
Pulse Staff Reporter 

Bae-B-Safe, the sexual health office at Palo Alto College. Photo by Ana Piña.

Title X is a program that offers federal grants to support family-planning services for low-income patients across the country. This is why changes to Title X are causing concern.

With a new presidency, changes have been made to the program. The changes, also known as the Title X “gag rule,” would cut off funds for any provider that performs abortions or makes abortion referrals. These changes were finalized in March of 2019 and are set to take effect this May.

On one side, these changes threaten Planned Parenthood, which is known for being one of the nation’s biggest providers of abortions. Although they perform abortions, they do not use any Title X money to fund abortions.

“The federal government, like any other major financial contributor, has a right to decide their terms of funding. It is up to Planned Parenthood as a company to decide what is most important, abortions or business,” said Ricardo Cuevas, a sophomore majoring as a computer support specialist at Palo Alto College.

Others argue that cutting off all funds to Planned Parenthood would set back all of the other medical services provided, such as screening and treatment for STIs and HIV, pelvic exams, breast/cervical cancer screenings, provisions of contraception and family-planning.  

“Women, especially, should be concerned about this because it concerns our bodies, our reproductive systems, our health and our rights!” said Amber Esparza, a sophomore majoring in  Communication at Palo Alto College.

With this change, funding will go to other sources that also provide family-planning services, such as federally qualified health centers, rural health centers and pregnancy resource centers. This will provide an opportunity for these sources to expand and become better known. It will also be a source for low-income patients to receive their reproductive health needs.

“It’s in a gray area. It’s positive and negative at the same time,” said Isabel Gonzalez, a sophomore majoring in Psychology at Palo Alto College.

This change will give women a chance to not have to visit abortion clinics for their health care needs. One negative aspect may be seen as stripping a physician’s ability to provide all of the options to their patients. It is argued that the rule is unconstitutional and interferes with doctor-patient communication in a way that violates federal law. By having their lips legally shut, mistrust can emerge.

“There is no such thing as benefiting a country whose views are scattered. To accommodate some is to step on the toes of others,” said Cuevas.

As of now, Planned Parenthood, The American Medical Association and other state institutes filed a federal lawsuit that was heard in the second to last week of April that challenged the changes made to Title X. This lawsuit, along with others that have been filed, is causing a difference. One of these differences being U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Bastian in the Eastern District of Washington state has temporarily blocked the change with a nationwide preliminary injunction just two weeks before it was to take place.  

In view of voting coming up,  contact your local senator at https://www.senate.gov/general/contacting.htm or your house representatives at https://www.house.gov/representatives to let them know where you stand on the issue.