Drs. Francis Hayes, Oge Young and Robert Kiefner: Title X is a crucial health care program and should be preserved

Published: 8/7/2018 12:14:49 AM

Title X is a federal health program established by the Nixon administration in 1970. These grants help fund health centers, like Planned Parenthood, hospital outpatient departments, and some doctor’s offices to provide health care to the uninsured and underinsured, men and women, young and old. Services include annual exams, health screening (PAP smears, mammograms), contraception and advice regarding early pregnancy. Title X funds have never paid for abortions.

Presently 4 million people in our country receive their health care at these clinics, and in New Hampshire 18,000 women and men are seen annually. Five Planned Parenthood clinics in our state see 11,000 of these patients.

On May 22, the Trump-Pence administration announced a list of changes governing the Title X program. These new rules include:

1. Providers at these health centers would not be allowed to discuss the option of abortion for an early unwanted pregnancy. And, they would not be able to refer a woman for a safe termination of her early pregnancy. All of this amounts to a “gag rule,” which has serious implications regarding the health of women and the overall availability of health services.

2. Women would be denied complete and accurate information about their health care.

3. Planned Parenthood clinics that either refer women for abortion or provide safe abortion services would be closed.

These new rules would result in:

1. Regression to unsafe abortion for the poor with a devastating effect on the morbidity and mortality of these women.

2. Decreased access to birth control with many more unintended pregnancies.

3. Decreased access to health care for all uninsured and underinsured people as these centers are closed. Less than 5 percent of patients seek care for early pregnancy at Planned Parenthood clinics.

Whether or not we support the right of a woman to choose when she has her family, we cannot accept rules prohibiting a compassionate discussion of early pregnancy between a woman and her health care provider. It seems an irony that these new restrictions would result in more unwanted pregnancies and many unsafe abortions. Finally, the closure of Title X-funded clinics defeats the purpose of President Nixon’s Title X program – to provide health care to the poor.

We ask you to stand against the “trumping” of good health care for the sake of those who need it and deserve it.

(Dr. Francis Hayes of Canterbury is a member of Canterbury Citizens for Democracy. Drs. Oge Young and Robert Kiefner of Concord are members of the Kent Street Coalition.)

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