Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands with Planned Parenthood against proposed Title X gag order


Jocelyn Moreno

Mayor Rahm Emanuel stands with Planned Parenthood against proposed Title X gag order

By Alexandra Yetter

Doctors may soon become legally obligated to withhold comprehensive information on family planning options from patients if the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to Title X funding go into effect.

Title X is a form of federal funding that pays for basic family planning services, such as birth control, cancer screenings and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Trump Administration’s proposed changes, introduced June 1, include a gag order that would make it illegal for medical providers at clinics that receive funding to give information on abortion to patients, even if the patient asks for it.

Title X is not used to fund any abortion procedures that may take place at Planned Parenthoods or other clinics, according to the Public Health Service Act. 

Planned Parenthood filed an amicus brief—a legal petition by a group not part of an action to provide information on a legal matter—along with 19 other cities and counties opposing the proposals. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sept. 13 that Chicago would support Planned Parenthood in this legal fight, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.

“This is one of the many continued attacks on reproductive healthcare,” said Julie Lynn, manager of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “Half of this country continues to be impacted by this administration’s horrible views on women’s health.”

Mary Kate Knorr, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, said this change is long overdue.

“[Pro-choice advocates] consider Illinois to be the abortion oasis of the Midwest,” Knorr said. “It would be bad news for them if legislators started passing restrictive laws that made it difficult for them to run their business.”

Lee Hasselbacher, senior policy researcher at the University of Chicago, said the changes could limit access to contraceptives.

Research on doctor-patient relationships have shown patients value providers who listen to them and present unbiased information, Hasselbacher said.

“The ethics of a [doctor-patient] relationship is completely being violated,” Lynn said. “Patients won’t know if their doctors are telling them all their options or the truth about their care.”

Other potential repercussions of the gag order may include an increase in teen and unintended pregnancies, and a flood of demand for services at clinics not funded by Title X. These clinics might have to start charging fees for services, Lee said.

People who live below the poverty line, are undocumented, uninsured or people of color will be disproportionately affected by these changes because they will have limited access to low- or no-cost family planning services, Lynn said.

“This country [shouldn’t] be allowed to dictate where people are getting their care, how people are getting it or what they’re getting,” Lynn said.

Fighting the changes to Title X alongside Chicago will insure that Planned Parenthood can continue giving family planning healthcare and counseling to women from all backgrounds, without the overreach from the government, she said.

“We need to continue to fight back and show opposition to these changes,” Lynn said. “Or, the four million people who rely on Title X healthcare services are the ones who are going to be hurt the most.”