Governor Brown Joins Growing Opposition to Trump's Domestic "Gag Rule"

Oregon Governor Kate Brown joined 13 other governors across the country in sending a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar opposing the Trump-Pence administration’s domestic gag rule, which would make it illegal for healthcare providers to refer for abortion and impose new restrictions intended to block patients from Planned Parenthood health centers for birth control. They join the 73 percent of Americans, 200 members of Congress and 110 public health organizations who already oppose the rule.

“We stand with women and men in our states by rejecting this Administration’s efforts to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, eviscerate women’s access to family planning services, and force medical professionals to knowingly withhold information from their patients,” the governors said in the letter. “If the federal government breaks its commitment to states in the Title X program, we will react in kind and do what is necessary to protect the health of our constituents.”

The Trump-Pence administration introduced a nationwide gag rule this month, a radical departure from how health care has operated in the United States up until this point. The rule makes it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers and any other provider in the Title X program to tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion. It would also introduce new rules designed to make it impossible for patients to access birth control and other reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers across the country.

Statement from Lisa Gardner, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon, and Anne Udall, Interim President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette:

“We’re grateful to Governor Brown for standing with Oregon women, and rejecting this dangerous policy. Thousands of Oregon women depend on Planned Parenthood for birth control and other basic health care. The Trump-Pence administration is taking direct aim at their health and rights, and we are glad that Governor Brown is joining the growing nationwide opposition to these attacks.”

The other signers of the letter are Governors Jay Inslee (WA), Gina Raimondo (RI), Andrew Cuomo (NY), Dannel Malloy (CT), Phil Murphy (NJ), Tom Wolf (PA), John Carney (DE), Ralph Northam (VA), Roy Cooper (NC), Mark Dayton (MN), John Hickenlooper (CO), Steve Bullock (MT) and David Ige (HI).

The proposed rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, would do three main things:

1. Make it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals and community health centers across the country that participate in the Title X program to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.

2. Impose new restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood.

3. Remove the guarantee that people are getting full and accurate information about their health care from their doctors. For decades, Title X law has been clear: Health care providers cannot withhold information from you about your pregnancy options. This rule means they can.

Read the full letter from the 14 Governors here.

Key facts about Title X and Planned Parenthood:

  • According to latest estimates, Planned Parenthood health centers served four in 10 Title X patients (41 percent) in 2015, despite only accounting for 13 percent of Title X centers.
  • More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are located in medically underserved areas.
  • Research has shown that Planned Parenthood consistently outperforms other publicly funded providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, when it comes to meeting the family planning needs of people across the United States by:
    • Providing the full range of birth control methods on-site;
    • Filling longer-term contraceptive prescriptions; and
    • Offering shorter wait times and expanded health center hours.
  • Community health centers will not be able to fill the huge void if Planned Parenthood is blocked from Title X program, dealing a major blow to health care access for thousands of low-income people across the country.
    • Community health centers themselves say there is no way they could fill the gap if Planned Parenthood health centers were no longer allowed to serve these patients.
    • The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the idea “ludicrous."
    • Across the entire community health center network, nearly half of sites served fewer than 10 contraceptive patients annually.
    • In fact, many of the lists of “replacement” providers don’t even provide reproductive health care. In Louisiana, the state list of alternative providers included dentists and nursing homes. In Florida, it included school nurses. In Ohio, it included food banks.

The gag rule has been met with immediate and widespread opposition:

News source: