Dr. Oge Young: Trumping common sense and humanity

For the Monitor
Sunday, June 10, 2018

On May 22, the Trump-Pence administration announced a policy change that would dismantle the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive care. This change, commonly known as the “gag rule,” would block funding of all Title X Family Planning Programs offering information about abortion.

Title X was established in 1970 under the Nixon administration to help low-income people gain access to basic reproductive health services. It is a federal grant program dedicated to providing family planning and preventive care to uninsured and underinsured patients. This includes communities of color and people with low incomes, who historically face more barriers to care and are less likely to have health insurance.

These federally supported clinics presently serve 4 million people in our country annually, including 18,000 women and men in New Hampshire. The five New Hampshire Planned Parenthood Centers provide care to 60 percent of our Title X patients. The Title X funding is intended to ensure every person – regardless of where they live or how much money they make – access to birth control, cancer screening, STD testing and treatment. and annual exams. Title X money by law cannot be used for abortion services.

President Trump’s recent pronouncement of the new “gag rule” defies more than 200 members of Congress, including New Hampshire’s full congressional delegation. Over 100 public health organizations and the American College of Ob/Gyn have come out in opposition. From experience we know that blocking access to basic reproductive health care results in a significant increase of unintended pregnancies and, subsequently, a rise in abortions.

It seems an irony that people opposed to a woman having the right to terminate an early unwanted pregnancy, also want to block her access to contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Our country has witnessed a marked decrease in the number of abortions over the past 10 years as birth control has become more available.

We should not allow our present administration to deny health centers Title X funding when they provide basic health information – including information about safe, legal abortion. We cannot sit idle and watch a cruel policy cut down the safety net for people who would otherwise go without health care. Where is our common sense and our humanity?

(Dr. Oge Young of Concord, an obstetrician/gynecologist, is past president of the New Hampshire Medical Society.)