Is the ‘gag rule’ dangerous to reproductive health in America?

University+of+Missouri+student+Jonathan+Butler+at+a+Planned+Parenthood+rally+at+the+University+of+Missouri+in+September+2015.
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Is the ‘gag rule’ dangerous to reproductive health in America?

University of Missouri student Jonathan Butler at a Planned Parenthood rally at the University of Missouri in September 2015.

University of Missouri student Jonathan Butler at a Planned Parenthood rally at the University of Missouri in September 2015.

Mark Schierbecker

University of Missouri student Jonathan Butler at a Planned Parenthood rally at the University of Missouri in September 2015.

Mark Schierbecker

Mark Schierbecker

University of Missouri student Jonathan Butler at a Planned Parenthood rally at the University of Missouri in September 2015.

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Of the four million people who rely on Title X funding for basic reproductive healthcare, Planned Parenthood once served 41 percent.

In August 2019, it was decided that those 1.6 million people, and many others, would be left without the life-saving services family planning organizations offer to achieve the ultimate goal of restricting abortions in the US, as Planned Parenthood announced it would stop receiving federal funding from Title X.

A main reason for this departure is the new ‘gag rule’ reinforced by the Trump administration, which prohibits any health provider receiving funding through Title X to give patients any information or referrals on where to access safe and legal abortions. This rule only hurts women and their access to education and other life-saving procedures.

However, is the new ‘gag rule’ actually going to help in the long run?

Planned Parenthood, and other similar organizations, provides critical services to women seeking preventative measures to pregnancy.  Affordable contraceptives, family planning, cancer screenings and STD testing are just a few of the many invaluable procedures offered by Planned Parenthood.  

All these things create an open dialogue about sex education and help women in creating a safe environment for themselves and partners. 

In developing countries, little to no education about reproductive rights, or women’s education in general, is one of the leading causes of higher birth rates, as women have no idea on how to protect themselves from pregnancy.  The same applies to women in the United States, as more education can help them prepare themselves if situations do arise.  

“I don’t remember being educated on Plan B and what to do if protection isn’t available,” senior Elizabeth Caulderon said. “I don’t think it was sufficient education on what to do if protection isn’t used or how to access birth control.”  

Many high schoolers have had scares over issues of pregnancy and education; however, abstinence-only is the guideline in sex education classes.  As the culture around relationships and marriage change, so should the education around it. In recent generations, people are getting married later and therefore not abstaining until then, making these programs obsolete. 

According to a study done by the Journal of Adolescent Health, “AOUM (Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage) programs have little demonstrated efficacy in helping adolescents to delay intercourse, while prompting health-endangering gender stereotypes and marginalizing sexual minority youth.”

Title X provides much of this missing education through over 4,000 family planning centers across the United States, helping to prevent disease spread and unwanted pregnancy, as the more you have access to contraceptives, the less accidents occur.  

Under this removal from the Title X program, wait times are expected to increase in these clinics, as well as prices for appointments and screenings.  Planned Parenthood isn’t just a place where women go to seek abortions; it is a family planning clinic, where women across the United States go to seek guidance and education on protection and prevention, as well as receive breast-cancer screenings and STD testing.  

According to Planned Parenthood, “The affordable birth control that Title X provides helps prevent one million unintended pregnancies each year. Overall, publicly funded birth control services — including Title X — help women avoid 1.9 million unintended pregnancies, including 440,000 teen pregnancies, every year.”

Since it was established in 1970, Planned Parenthood has provided health care to low income families who otherwise would have no access to it, helping to lower pregnancy rates in the United States and protect women’s rights to reproductive health.

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