Mayor Manheimer joins nationwide mayor group in opposition to abortion gag rule

Press release from Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:

Today, Mayor Esther Manheimer of Asheville joined Mayors Hemminger, Schewel and Willis of Chapel Hill, Durham and Navassa, along with nearly 80 other mayors from across the nation, in releasing an open letter to the Trump-Pence Administration opposing the dangerous domestic gag rule.

Trump’s nationwide gag rule, released in late May, makes it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers and any other provider in the Title X program to tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion. It would also introduce new restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to access care at Planned Parenthood health centers across the country, which would leave many patients with nowhere else to go for birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventive care.

In the bipartisan letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, the mayors highlighted the irreplaceable need for Planned Parenthood’s services in their communities and declared their support for equitable health care access:

“No one knows better than mayors how devastating it would be to take away access to health care and information from the people that we are honored to represent. If all Title X patients are blocked from receiving the full scope of medical information, it would be an attack on the well-being and economic security of those who already face barriers to accessing health care and need it most. People go to Planned Parenthood and other Title X centers because they know they will find health care professionals who are compassionate experts dedicated to reproductive and preventive health care. We know our communities, and we know they rely on the trusted care provided through the Title X program. It would be nothing short of disastrous for the millions of people who receive care through the Title X program to lose access to the providers that they trust and to the expert information that directly affects their bodies and lives.”

Statement from Lindsay Robinson, NC Director of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic:

“We thank these mayors for doing what is right for North Carolina and standing up for access to quality, affordable health care that millions of people rely on, here and around the country. In 2015, Title X‒funded sites delivered contraceptive care to 111,010 women in North Carolina. If Planned Parenthood were excluded from Title X, all other types of Title X-funded sites in North Carolina would have to increase their contraceptive client caseloads by 13 percent, an increase other providers have already said they could not take on. The mayors who sent this letter are listening to the needs of the people they represent.

“The domestic gag rule is unethical. This is the Trump-Pence Administration’s way of trying to undermine and control women’s fundamental health and rights. We will not stand for it, and people in North Carolina will not stand for it. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic will continue to fight for everyone’s right to control their own body in North Carolina.”

The domestic gag rule has been met with widespread opposition by the American people, the medical community, lawmakers, and public health experts. New polling from Hart Research Associates showed overwhelming opposition to the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to take away women’s basic rights and health care. Major medical associations, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and others, oppose this rule — with the American Medical Association saying they are “particularly alarmed,” and the American Nurses Association stating that it “violates basic ethics of the [nursing] profession.” More than 200 members of Congress (see the Senate letter and House letter), more than 110 public health organizations, 274 state legislators, and governors across the country have come out in opposition to the gag policy.

The proposed rule, which was officially published for public comment on June 1, would do three main things:

  • Make it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers across the country that participate in the Title X program to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.
  • Impose new restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
  • Remove the guarantee that people are getting full and accurate information about their health care from their doctors. For decades, Title X law has been clear: Health care providers cannot withhold information from you about your pregnancy options. This rule means they can.

Title X is a decades-old popular and effective program designed to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, how much money they make, and whether or not they have health insurance, has access to basic preventive reproductive health care like birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and well-woman exams. It has received bipartisan support from Congress since its inception. Every year it serves more than four million people, although many people who get care through the program may not even be aware that they are Title X patients.

Although Planned Parenthood health centers make up only about 13 percent of the Title X health centers, they serve 41 percent of the patients who get care through Title X.

The domestic gag rule wouldn’t just affect Planned Parenthood. The rule “gags” any Title X provider from referring for abortion. It would affect every health care provider in the program, from community health centers to hospitals.

Title X serves a racially and ethnically diverse patient base: Out of the four million family planning clients served by Title X, more than one-third are Hispanic or Latino, 13 percent have limited proficiency in English, and at least a third are people of color. Racial or ethnic bias, along with language barriers, can already make health care difficult to access and an attack on Title X will limit health care options even further.

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