President Trump's Recent Title X Changes and Why It Matters

On March 4, President Trump’s administration finalized a rule that seeks to limit the sexual health services of Title X. Title X is a federally funded program established in 1970 to provide affordable reproductive services and contraceptives to low-income women. Over 4 million women rely on Title X for wellness exams, birth control, cervical and breast cancer screenings and STD/STI testing and treatment, including testing for HIV. Planned Parenthood, although they make up a small portion (13%) of Title X centers, serve actually 41% of all Title X patients.

Courtesy: ReproJustice

 

With these newly proposed regulations, Title X services and funds could be severely limited especially concerning abortion and birth control. Under these regulations, federal funds would be unavailable to family planning services that offer abortions. Counseling and referrals regarding abortions originally from Title X providers would be eliminated and the range of “non-directive” pregnancy options and counseling, including adoption and prenatal care, would be removed. With funds being directed away from Title X services that include abortion services, the federal funds would be newly directed to “faith-based” organizations that promote abstinence and “fertility awareness.” Clinics receiving Title X grants not only cannot provide a referral for an abortion, but they also cannot even share office space with another clinic that performs abortions. Title X as a federal grant will still exist, but the number of participating clinics and availability of emergent services will greatly shrink.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and Planned Parenthood have already filed lawsuits challenging the proposal of these regulations. AMA’s president, Dr. Barbara McAneny stated on NBC News:

“Because of the administration's overreach and interference ... physicians will be prohibited from having open, frank conversations with their patients about all their health care options….This blatant violation of patients' rights under the Code of Medical Ethics is untenable”.

While many states have begun litigation against these new rules, many pro-life and religious groups are positive. One group, National Right to Life Committee, praised the rule stating that while the rule doesn’t reduce funding, it "merely ensures that health facilities receiving Title X funds do not perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning."

The new regulations also broaden the eligibility of “low-income women.” The definition of “low-income women” were those receiving “income below 100% of the federal poverty level,” but now includes women whose employers do not cover contraceptives in their plan due to moral or religious reasons. This stipulation is puzzling because in October 2016 President Trump put in place regulations that exempted many employers from participating in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage obligation based on a moral or religious argument. Therefore, women who work for employers that do not provide methods of contraception in their health insurance plans are expected to be included in Title X’s eligibility. This would greatly increase Title X’s number of patients, and so far no additional funds have been allocated to Title X services for these newly eligible patients.

Courtesy: Pro-Life Action League

 

Planned Parenthood has boldly declared that if such regulations are implemented, they will leave the Title X program. While that would cause the organization to lose $60 million in yearly federal funding, Planned Parenthood does not want to limit their ability to provide all services, including birth control and abortion counseling. That being said, Planned Parenthood eventually cannot continue providing contraception freely or at such a low cost without its federal funding.

As of March 5, the new regulations are expected to take place in 60 days, but it has already been set back due to the legal action of AMA, Planned Parenthood, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), California officials and over 20 officials in majority Democratic states.