Proposed HHS Rule Would Deny Women and Families Unbiased Family Planning Services and Burden Health Care Providers Across Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG, PA — On behalf of all Pennsylvanians, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Governor Tom Wolf have filed formal, legal comments opposing a proposed rule issued by the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, which would deny women, men and families across Pennsylvania and the country access to comprehensive family planning services in direct conflict with guidance from their doctors.
The Health and Human Services proposal would eliminate the Title X requirement that pregnant women have an opportunity to receive information and counseling on all available health care options.
Instead of providing neutral information and referrals for reproductive health services when requested, Title X providers would be barred under the proposed rule from offering women affirmative support or assistance in seeking an abortion, even when requested.
“President Trump is not a doctor, but with this proposed rule his administration is putting the federal government between women and their health care professionals,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Denying women basic information about their reproductive choices violates a right central to their fundamental dignity and well-being. No matter how the administration chooses to characterize the proposal, it is a gag rule – plain and simple.”
“Let me be clear, there is no role for government to step between a woman and her doctor,” Governor Wolf said. “President Trump’s plan to implement a Title X gag rule will cut women off from critical health care services like birth control and preventive care, including cancer screenings, and will censor doctors and strip federal funding from certain health care providers for discussing legal health care procedures with their patients.”
The comments by Governor Wolf and Attorney General Shapiro argue the Administration’s proposed rule denies Pennsylvanians access to comprehensive, medically-accurate and nondirective health care; that it unduly burdens Title X providers and risks access to affordable family planning services for vulnerable populations; and that it will create significant, burdensome financial implications for the Commonwealth; and for these reasons the proposed rule should be immediately withdrawn.
Title X is the only federal statute that authorizes grants to clinics that provide family planning services to low-income and uninsured people who would otherwise lack access to care. In 2017, Pennsylvania received more than $13 million in Title X funding to support family planning and health care services at 191 sites throughout the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania has 198,000 women who benefit from these services, the third-highest number of Title X patients in the nation. Planned Parenthood is the largest Title X service provider in the Commonwealth, and is the only Title X provider in many parts of the state.
The proposed rule is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s agenda to cut off all government funding to Planned Parenthood. The formal comments by Attorney General Shapiro and Governor Wolf note that President Trump himself has stated that the purpose of the proposal is to shut down Planned Parenthood, not to uphold Title X.
“This is a thinly-veiled attempt to deny women, men and families across our Commonwealth and nation access to comprehensive, evidence-based family planning services,” Attorney General Shapiro continued. “I’m fighting for the rights of every Pennsylvanian to access well-grounded medical care, and ensure our state’s healthcare providers are not unduly disrupted or burdened.”
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