Any day now, we expect the Trump administration to issue its Title X Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)—and to be honest, we’re a little nervous.
After all, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) political appointee overseeing the Title X program, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs Teresa Manning, has publicly opposed the use of federal funds for family planning and stated that contraception is ineffective. The former anti-abortion lobbyist also opposes emergency contraception. What’s more, a memo leaked last month suggested that advisers to the Trump administration are seeking to slash Title X funding by half—and/or to promote the “fertility awareness” method of birth control in place of other, more effective forms of contraception.
The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, of which we are a member, sees the likelihood of an attack on Title X as “High;” the Guttmacher Institute said in October: “Never in its history has the nation’s family planning safety net been in such jeopardy as it is today.”
You can see why we’re not exactly optimistic.
There are a few ways HHS could go after family planning providers through Title X:
- By cutting or eliminating Title X funding altogether;
- By altering the parameters of the grant to include so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (which use tactics of misinformation and deception to prevent women from accessing abortion care) as eligible entities or “tiering” providers (giving preference to public health departments or primary care providers in order to shut out non-profit organizations like MFP);
- By putting onerous conditions on Title X recipients—and their patients—such as requiring parental notification and consent for teens seeking contraceptive care, a policy repeatedly rejected by the Maine Legislature;
- By instituting what’s known as the Domestic Gag Rule, which would bar Title X-funded health care providers from talking about abortion as one of three choices available to pregnant patients who come to us for comprehensive options counseling.
Under any of the above scenarios, the Maine Family Planning network of providers (18 MFP clinics, plus four Planned Parenthood sites, 20 Federally-Qualified Health Centers, and five school-based health centers) would be hamstrung in its ability to provide a full range of contraceptive and reproductive health care services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women, men, and teens around the state.
We are staying vigilant as the right wing’s latest attack on women’s health care looms. Stay tuned.