The proposed changes in Title X would roll back gains to health and opportunity — particularly to African Americans and other minorities — and it would undermine patient rights, and fundamentally change the landscape of reproductive health and the clinician-patient relationship, according to legislators and experts trying to find ways to stop Trump administration policies.
“Reproductive health is a critical part of every woman’s health care,” said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City’s health commissioner. “Standard medical care should be based on science, not ideology. The fundamental right to health cannot be a privilege reserved only for those who can afford it.”
The Title X program serves 4 million Americans each year and is the only federal program focused on family planning and reproductive health and screening services.
President Richard Nixon signed Title X into law in 1970. The program’s mission ensured that all women — regardless of their economic circumstances or race — have access to the type of birth control they wanted.
Title X funds have made the full range of highly effective methods of contraception accessible to millions of teens and low-income Americans, thereby reducing rates of unplanned pregnancy and abortion.
The Trump administration recently set new priorities for the program, including an emphasis on natural family planning at the expense of more effective methods such as the pill, IUD and implant.
They also require women to abstain from sex or use condoms for a week per month during their fertile window.
Now, there’s no requirement for Title X providers to offer all types of birth control.
Title X counts as a major contributor to the historic lows in unintended teen pregnancy, including in Baltimore where teen birth rates decreased 61 percent between 2000 and 2016, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
In 2010, Maryland’s Title X services saved the state nearly $148 million, health department officials said.
“In Baltimore, we’ve celebrated significant accomplishments in advancing women’s health, including drastic declines in teen birth rates,” said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. “Without question, these cuts threaten the gains we have made to improve health and well-being for women and families.”
Title X funding remains crucial to preserving access to affordable health care and essential for promoting women’s reproductive health across the nation and in Maryland alike, said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
“Cuts to Title X will harm our most vulnerable communities and put thousands of women and children at great risk should they lose access to its services,” Cardin said. “The administration’s attack on Title X is a continuation of attempts to limit women’s health and reproductive rights. And it is an attempt to wrongly empower states to obstruct access to affordable health care for low-income families and communities of color.”
The changes made by this proposed rule would greatly impede women’s access to family planning resources and ensure that low-income women have fewer health care providers to rely upon for comprehensive, quality reproductive care, said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
“The Trump administration is trying to insert itself into one of the most intimate conversations between a patient and health care provider,” Cummings said. “This is just another example of the Republican obsession with closing Planned Parenthood, and the Trump administration’s all-out assault on health care.”
The administration’s emphasis on natural family planning methods guts the core mission of Title X — to help women and men plan their families by providing the full range of birth control methods, said Katherine Strandberg, a research associate with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Title X funds should not be used to further religious or ideological objections to certain types of birth control, but instead should be used to help all women get the effective methods of birth control that they want,” Strandberg said.