The Trump administration has proposed changes to the Title X program, which will effectively put access to family planning and preventive health services out of reach for thousands of women in Washington state.
As ob/gyns practicing collectively for almost 40 years, we know the essential role contraception plays in the lives of our patients. Contraception is cost-effective, reduces unintended pregnancy and abortion rates, and it allows women to decide when and if they want to parent. Contraception coupled with related health care helps prevent nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies a year nationally, allowing women and their families to achieve greater educational, financial and professional success and stability.
Title X has been a public-health success story for nearly 50 years, ensuring that safe, timely and evidence-based care is available to every woman regardless of her financial circumstances. It is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to providing low-income and adolescent patients with access to essential family planning and preventive health services and information.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump administration has proposed changes to the Title X program, which will effectively put access to family planning and preventive-health services out of reach for thousands of women in Washington state. For 2016, Title X sites in Washington state delivered essential services to more than 90,000 patients, preventing more than 17,000 unintended pregnancies. That year, 88 percent of these patients accessed care at a Title X-funded Planned Parenthood. In large part due to Title X-funded programs, our state teen-pregnancy rate has decreased by 69 percent between 1991 and 2016.
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Public comments can be made at the U.S. Health and Human Services website though July 31: st.news/titlex
Along with these statistics are the faces of our patients, whom the proposed changes will impact. For example, without Title X, one of our patients, a 29-year-old working mother of three young children, would not be able to access contraception to prevent pregnancy until she finishes school. Proposed federal funding restrictions to the Title X program would prevent this woman access and she would be at risk of not finishing school or providing for her children.
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The proposed rule changes from the Trump administration would make Planned Parenthood and other qualified providers ineligible for funding, resulting in the reduction or elimination of access to contraceptives and preventive health care for low-income and adolescent patients.
This dangerous rule also forces providers to omit important and accurate medical information necessary for patients to make timely, fully-informed decisions, encroaching upon providers’ codes of ethics and responsibilities to patients. Policy decisions about health must be firmly rooted in science and must increase access to safe, effective and timely care.
We are lucky to practice medicine in a progressive state with a governor who has prioritized women’s access to safe and affordable reproductive health care. Just this year, our state lawmakers enacted landmark legislation to protect and expand access to contraception. The Trump administration’s proposed rule changes don’t just endanger patient care — they are in direct opposition to Washington state’s core values.
As ob-gyns dedicated to the health of our patients, we need to keep politics out of the exam room. We urge our partners across the medical community to join us in telling the Trump administration to put patients first and withdraw this proposed rule without delay.