In the wake of the 2016 elections, the Trump administration and social conservatives in Congress ramped up attempts to undermine the Title X national family planning program as part of their larger ideological agenda attacking sexual and reproductive health and rights. Title X is a cornerstone of the publicly funded family planning network and these attacks threaten safety-net providers’ ability to deliver high-quality services to millions of patients who need and want them.
Title X is the only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services for low-income patients. It supports nearly 4,000 service sites nationwide, serving approximately four million people per year.
Domestic Gag Rule
In March 2019, the Trump administration finalized an overhaul of the federal regulations that govern the Title X program. If implemented, the rule would impose sweeping and destructive changes to Title X. The rule would prohibit abortion referrals, impose coercive counseling standards for pregnant patients, and impose unnecessary and stringent requirements for the physical and financial separation of Title X–funded activities from a range of abortion-related activities—a set of provisions commonly referred to as the domestic gag rule. The rule would also enable the administration to undermine the existing provider network and threaten Title X’s standards on quality of care and confidentiality, among other changes. We analyzed proposed and final versions of the rule, and synthesized extensive evidence in support of legal action to stop the rule from going into effect.
Dangerous and Coercive Title X Gag Rule Released (February 27, 2019)
Guttmacher Institute Declaration Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington: National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, et al. v. Alex M. Azar II, et. al (March 22, 2019)
Compromising Care for Pregnant People and Adolescents
Among other negative impacts, the new rule and other attacks on Title X compromise the rights and health of people who rely on the program, including by restricting abortion counseling and referral for pregnant people and by rolling back adolescents’ ability to obtain confidential care.
Subverting the Network of Providers
Antiabortion policymakers have attempted to narrow the network of Title X providers by excluding those that offer abortion using non–Title X funds (such as many health centers affiliated with Planned Parenthood). The purpose of these restrictions is to force providers to cease offering abortion care or else exit the Title X network. If the gag rule forces some providers to leave the Title X network, other safety-net clinics (such as federally qualified health centers, or FQHCs) could not be realistically expected to accommodate expanded caseloads.
In February 2018, the Trump administration released its first funding opportunity announcement for Title X service providers, signaling how this administration would seek to fundamentally undercut the reach of the program and the quality of the care it supports. Specifically, the funding announcement indicated the administration’s intent to reshape the provider network, promote natural family planning over other contraceptive methods, and emphasize discredited abstinence-only messages among adolescents.