Title X of the Public Health Service Act became a law in the 1970s. This law states that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” The program has been helping low-income families for decades with family planning and preventative measures. In fact it is the cornerstone of family planning in America as it enables under-served women to gain access to high-quality resources.
Some of Title X’s services include wellness exams, birth control, critical cervical and breast cancer screenings, contraception education, as well as testing and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Title X has continuously served effectively to health centers across the country.
In 2016 alone, its funding was used to administer 720,000 Pap tests, more than 4 million STD tests and nearly 1 million breast examinations. In 2017, 4 million family planning clients were seen through 6.6 million family planning encounters. As you can see, the mark and usage of Title X is ubiquitous as there are nearly 4,000 health centers in the United States that receive funding from the service.
Of all Title X centers, Planned Parenthood services make up only 13 percent, but serve a colossal 41 percent of all Title X patients. This means that preventing patients from receiving care from Title X services also means that many will not be able to go to Planned Parenthood centers either.
Although Title X has been powerful in aiding women across the country, social conservatives are not happy with its services, primarily the ones in which Title X uses its own funds to help women with abortions. In June of 2018, the President Donald J. Trump administration appointed Diane Foley to be in charge of Title X activity. One thing to note about Foley is her role as the former chief executive of Life Network, an orthodox Christian group which runs low-quality health centers that have no professional staff as well as no legal licenses to run such clinics.
Under Trump’s new Title X administration, there will be several deleterious changes being made to the old Title X. There will be the elimination of many quality family planning services as well as prohibitions of abortion counseling and referrals. The new administration will also compromise the requirement of confidentiality for minors looking for contraception, as well as require women to be referred to prenatal care if she receives a positive for pregnancy, even if she does not want to go through pregnancy.
All of these changes only add to the physical and mental stress women are already going through. Family planning is still considered a taboo topic in many areas and without having licensed clinicians to educate them, many women will be forced to put their lives at risk. On Feb. 15, the Senate confirmed William Barr as attorney general. In the past, Barr has shown no support of abortions and in fact rallied against them saying abortion will “ultimately be overturned.”
“(Barr’s) appointment only helps to further the Trump administration’s relentless campaign against women’s essential reproductive rights,” said Adrienne Kimmell, vice president of communications for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Barr’s confirmation is Trump’s latest move to use his administration as a weapon against women and our most fundamental right to control our own bodies and decide our own destinies.”
Title X has brought forth significant impact across the nation. It provides affordable birth control that aids in preventing 1 million pregnancies annually. Title X gives women more control over their own lives, provides job and economic security and maintains good health by giving them resources to control their family planning.
Title X’s aid does not stop here though, it extends beyond insuring women’s lives by detecting breast and cervical cancer in their early stages. Not only that but this service also helps people screen for STIs and STDs. “For every dollar invested in publicly funded family planning programs like Title X, the government saves $7.09 in Medicaid-related costs. In 2010, state and federal governments saved $13.6 billion from publicly funded family planning programs, including $7 billion from Title X-funded health centers alone,” according to Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Ultimately it is imperative to protect Title X from these changes. It is silly to say this in today’s modern world, but I suppose we are forgetting a rudimentary rule of thumb: each person is entitled to their own body, thus every woman gets to choose what she wants to do with hers. If she chooses to be a mother, then so be it, but if a woman simply is not ready, then there must be a second option for her so that she can choose what she wants to do with her body.
Forcing a woman to have a child will only will take a toll on her life when this dilemma can easily be prevented. Taking away the option of abortion restricts and hinders the growth of an individual especially if they do not have the resources to start a family. Changes to Title X will also mean the lack of education for safe practices and preventing pregnancies. We cannot restrict women’s rights. We cannot restrict human rights.
Harleen Singh is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. Her column, "Here's to Your Health," runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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