East Falls Local Article: What’s In a Name?

Planned Parenthood. I like the name.  I like the concept. Planning your family. Planning to be a parent.  As many of us know, being a parent is a serious and life-long responsibility.  This responsibility brings some of the greatest joys and worries we can experience.

Therefore, doing our best to ensure that we, as individuals or as a couple, are in the best position to support, nurture and care for children is a good and laudable way to approach parenthood.

Interestingly and unfortunately, Planned Parenthood gets caught up in the debate on abortion care with little to no recognition by some that their services are much broader and much deeper and necessary.

However, due to the actions of the current federal administration all of the services of Planned Parenthood have been placed in jeopardy.

Title X is the nation’s federal family planning program, created under the Nixon Administration to ensure access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood has participated in the program since its inception, and has been the largest provider in the program, serving 40 percent of all Title X patients. Services under Title X include diagnostic exams, pap tests, breast cancer screenings, pregnancy testing, birth control, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV screening and treatment.

Clinics now have to draw a “bright line” between abortion care services and all other services: separate accounting, physical spaces, staff, contact info, patient health records, etc. Previously, clinics that received Title X grants for family planning services were able to offer abortion care services with separate, non-federal funding, in the same facility, by the same staff.

Clinics are now prohibited from referring patients to abortion providers unless patients state a desire to terminate their pregnancies, unprompted by clinic staff. Clinic staff also, however, are now able to refuse to refer patients to abortion providers if they personally object to the procedure on “moral” grounds. Previously, all options had to be discussed with patients during pregnancy counseling, including the option to terminate.

This domestic gag rule basically prohibits Title X funded institutions from referring patients for abortion care. 

Because it has been illegal to use federal funds for abortion since before Title X was introduced, Title X grants have never been used to pay for abortion care. Requiring Title X clinics to have a separate physical space, separate accounting, separate staff, etc. places a significant burden on family planning clinics that also provide abortion care.

Could a significant burden be the intent of this rule? The cynical side of me says yes. After all, I have seen any number of attempts to limit and severely limit access to abortion care during my 5 terms in the PA House.

This Domestic Gag Rule is having consequences for the patients who rely on Planned Parenthood and other abortion-providing family planning clinics for their subsidized health care services.The funding that came from Title X into Pennsylvania is just short of $3 million. Those dollars clearly subsidized healthcare for many citizens, women and men alike. Zero of those dollars were ever used for abortion care. 

Please know, I have stood, and been consistently outspoken, for a woman’s right to choose.  I firmly believe that this decision is not a decision that should involve the local, state or federal government.

It is interesting that those who refer to themselves as pro-life assume that if someone is pro-choice that they are pro-abortion.  Pro-choice is the ability for an individual to assess their personal and private situation and to make the best decision for their situation.