Last week, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a family planning “gag rule,” which would strip federal Title X funding from any clinic that provides abortions or abortion referrals, could go into effect immediately. The new rules ban Title X funded-clinics—which serve approximately 4 million low-income Americans—from both making abortion referrals and sharing office space with abortion providers, effectively forcing numerous clinics to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels, or shut-down all together.
The court ruled that parts of the new rule, such as no longer being able to provide abortion referrals, could go into effect immediately. Other requirements, such as the physical separation of abortion services from non-abortion services must be completed by March 4, 2020.
Provider groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have labeled these rules as a “gag rule”, warning that it will undermine the patient-provider relationship and interfere with sensitive conversations between doctors and patients.
President of Planned Parenthood Dr. Leana Wen argued in a written statement that this rule is “unethical, illegal, and harmful to public health.” She additionally stated that the news is “devasting for the millions of people who rely on Title X health centers for cancer screenings, HIV tests, affordable birth control, and other critical primary and preventative care.”
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, nearly 60% of women across the U.S rely on Title X supported organizations for vital health services. Emily Nestler, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights argued that “clinics will be forced to stop providing abortion services…and that will make it nearly impossible for thousands of women, especially in lower-income, scarcely populated areas, to get any care at all.”
However, state attorneys general from California, Oregon, and Washington say they’ll continue to fight these rules. Dr. Wen further stated that “Planned Parenthood will not let the government censor our doctors and nurses from informing patients where and how they can access health care.”
Media Resources: Politico 6/20/19; Buzzfeed News 6/20/19; Washington Post 6/20/19; CBS News 6/20/19