Thanks to the Trump administration’s new rule, health clinics and providers funded by Title X are banned from referring or giving patients information on where to access an abortion. This obvious attack on reproductive healthcare is commonly known as the “gag rule,” (presumably because it does exactly what it’s namesake suggests). This rule has squeezed Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title X and unfortunately, Black women stand to lose the most. There are nearly 4,000 Title X funded centers across the country and Planned Parenthood serves 40 percent of the four million patients who rely on the program.
“The Trump administration’s gag rule will reverberate across the country,” says Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in a statement sent to MadameNoire. “This reality will hit hardest people struggling to make ends meet — including those people in rural areas and communities of color.”
More than 800,000 African-Americans depend on Title X, according to a 2017 Title X Family Planning Annual Report. Those who are poor or don’t have health insurance will no longer have access to birth control, STD testing/treatment, and even cancer screenings. The Trump administration’s “gag rule” also restricts access to pregnancy tests, counseling and educational programs.
Title X is vital because compared to white women, Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with STI’s like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, according to a 2017 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report. Non-Hispanic Black women are also 2.27 times more likely to be consumed with triple-negative breast cancer as opposed to white women.
If this rule sticks, maintaining sexual and reproductive health can become very difficult for women. But it’s important to remember that the fate of our rights is not sealed yet. 200 members of Congress, 80 mayors, and 274 state legislators have opposed the “gag rule” along with The National Medical Association, the nation’s largest organization that serves Black physicians and patients. The American Medical Association has also thrown their hat into the ring and are suing in hopes of overturning it.
“I want our patients to know: while the Trump administration may have given up on you, Planned Parenthood never will,” Johnson says. “Our doors are open today, and our doors will be open tomorrow. We believe that the Trump administration is doing this as an attack on reproductive health care and to keep providers like Planned Parenthood from serving our patients.”
Removing the services Title X offers furthers the discrimination of Black women in health care. Although Title X funding doesn’t cover abortion services, without access to birth control Black women are more at risk to unintended pregnancies. More than any other group, Black women are denied abortions and forced to carry unwanted pregnancies, according to a study by the American Journal of Public Health. Being able to make a choice helps women take autonomy over their bodies and allows them to navigate their futures and careers.
Women who were denied access to a wanted abortion were three-times more likely to be unemployed. Compared to women who succeeded in getting an abortion, women who are kept from these rights are four times more likely to fall below the federal poverty line. Having a choice and the safe and legal means to terminating a pregnancy isn’t just a health issue, but an economic concern as well.
“Health care shouldn’t come down to how much you earn, where you live, or who you are,” Johnson says. “It’s time for the U.S. Senate to act to pass a spending bill that will reverse the harmful rule and restore access to birth control, STD testing, and other critical services to people with low-incomes. People’s lives depend on it.”