Legislative Democratic Leaders call on Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to Stop Title X Proposed Rule
SAN DIEGO – Today, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles) submitted comments on a proposed federal rule that prohibits Title X providers from counseling and referring abortion services to a patient. This so-called “gag rule” drastically limits providers’ ability to give full information about a person’s family-planning options and arbitrarily forces doctors and nurses to limit the care patients need. The proposed rule also limits access to all 18 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of contraception and evidence-based family-planning options.
Senator Atkins and Speaker Rendon strongly oppose the proposed rule.
“Title X-funded programs provide fundamental health care services such as cancer screening, pap smears, and contraception to more than 1 million low-income Californians,” said Senator Atkins. “California has 356 Title X health centers. For many of their patients, these Title X-supported health centers are the main source of health care. Decreasing access to free and low-cost services will be devastating to many California communities, to public health generally, and to the economy in those areas.”
“Title X funded programs have helped California become enormously successful in preventing unplanned pregnancies,” said Speaker Rendon. “This proposed gag rule flies in the face of science, common sense and human decency. We urge Secretary Azar to reject this cynical ploy and ensure Californians retain access to health care and contraception.”
The rule requires a clear financial and physical separation between Title X providers and abortion services. Even the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 15 percent of all Title X sites do not comply with these proposed standards, and the cost of bringing them into compliance would be $24 million in the first year alone. In addition to the economic impact, the rule does not consider how higher rates of unplanned pregnancies and decreased access to health care will affect the economy. For example, when Texas mistakenly cut funding to family-planning services by eliminating $73 million for that purpose, more than 80 clinics closed. The result was an increase in unplanned and teen pregnancies, which cost taxpayers more than $1 billion annually.
In California, Title X-funded clinics successfully prevented more than 200,000 unintended pregnancies in 2014, which would have resulted in 112,300 unintended births and 83,300 abortions. These clinics reduce unintended pregnancies by 37 percent, saving California and the U.S. government $1.3 billion per year. If unplanned and teen pregnancies increase as a result of slashing Title X funding, the increased cost to Americans’ tax burden would be $7 billion every year.
Finally, Title X funding is especially vital for LGBTQIA people, and under the proposed rule, the number of providers and services available to LGBTQIA youth will significantly decrease. In addition, the proposed requirements ask invasive questions and will pressure youth to reveal information to parents and guardians, which will deter youth from seeking needed medical care and obtaining factual medical information. Title X health centers have been extremely successful in reaching these populations.