Congressional Dems speak out against Trump's 'Title X gag rule'
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky pledges to protect funding for Planned Parenthood
By Ted Cox
CHICAGO — Illinois congressional Democrats and the state’s lieutenant governor railed against the Trump administration’s “gag rule,” forbidding even the discussion of abortion between a federally funded doctor and a patient, at a news conference Friday at the Planned Parenthood offices in Chicago.
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on health care, spoke out against the Trump-Pence administration’s “Title X gag rule” as “simply unacceptable.”
Title X is a Nixon administration program providing health care to those those in need. President Trump’s proposed changes in Title X would shut off the federal funds to any doctor or health-care organization that even discusses the option of an abortion with a patient.
“This rule would violate the provider-patient relationship by silencing doctors and leaving patients unable to rely on their providers to share complete health-care information with them,” said the Schaumburg Democrat.
According to Krishnamoorthi, the rule change jeopardizes funding for 4 million people in the program, with 70 centers in Illinois serving 100,000 patients under Title X.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky charged that it was political. “Anti-choice extremists in the White House and at the Department of Health and Human Services have teamed up with congressional Republicans and anti-choice organizations to craft these policies,” she said.
“Women are standing up,” added the Evanston Democrat. “Women are simply not going to go back.”
The new rules are entering a 60-day public review period before they’re enacted, but Schakowsky said the battle wasn’t over. “The Congress has the power of the purse,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that funding persists.”
“The Congress has the power of the purse. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that funding persists.”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
“This administration has undercut safe and affordable health care at every turn,” Krishnamoorthi added.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis of Chicago echoed Schakowsky on refusing to be turned around. “Quality comprehensive health care should be a right and not a privilege,” he said. “If you’re trying to take us back, hell no, we won’t go.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago quoted Richard Nixon on the need for the Title X program he introduced, saying, “No American woman should be denied access to family-planning assistance because of her economic condition.”
“This gag rule is unethical and is harmful to the people of Illinois,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, especially for low-income and minority women.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said Illinois would join other states in exploring legal options to block implementation of the rule.
According to Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Julie Lynn, the organization has 18 percent of the state’s Title X outlets, but treats 42 percent of the Illinois patients under the program. She said, if need be, the organization would solider on without the funding — estimated at almost $2.5 million just over the last six months, according to a Chicago Tribune story.
“This isn’t about the bottom line,” Lynn said. “It’s about patients that are going to be impacted by having their services taken away from them.”
Dr. Evelyn Figueroa, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, said, “Legislation has eroded my ability to offer my patients high-quality health care.” Pointing out that mainstream medical organizations including the American Medical Association have come out in opposition to the rule change, she added, “Trump’s gag rule violates every doctor’s commitment to ethical patient care.”
“This gag rule dangerously interferes with the patient-provider relationship,” added Yvonne Oldaker of Planned Parenthood’s south-suburban Flossmoor location. “As the rule stands right now, Planned Parenthood of Illinois would not accept Title X funding, because we will not compromise our ethics or our patients’ health.”