This is a Letter to the Editor from Ashleigh McGuire of Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes. To submit letters, email Managing Editor Kelsey O’Connor at

ITHACA, N.Y. — Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes’ advocates sent off over 800 comment cards to Secretary Azar at the Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday rejecting the Trump-Pence administration’s proposed changes to the Title X program. Title X is the nation’s only family planning program for people with low incomes, providing preventive reproductive health services, like STI testing, cancer screenings, well-person exams, and more, to four million people each year. The proposed changes would “gag” healthcare providers, like Planned Parenthood, in the Title X program by making it illegal to tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion. This rule is a radical departure from the way health care has operated in the United States up until now and it is a violation of medical ethics.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is accepting comments on the proposed changes to Title X until next Tuesday, July 31st.

New Yorkers reject this gag rule. Planned Parenthood advocates in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions have submitted 1,342 comments against the gag rule and filled out 800 comment cards to Secretary Azar at the Dept of HHS rejecting the rule. In New York State, Planned Parenthood makes up 34 percent of Title X service sites, and those sites serve 52 percent of Title X patients. Nationally, while Planned Parenthood health centers make up only 13 percent of the Title X health centers, they serve 41 percent of the patients who get care through Title X.

This rule has been met with widespread opposition. New polling from Hart Research Associates shows overwhelming opposition to the Trump-Pence administration’s efforts to take away our basic reproductive rights and health care. Across the country, 73 percent of Americans oppose Administration actions like the domestic gag rule and almost seven in 10 Americans strongly disapprove of the Trump-Pence administration’s agenda to take away basic reproductive health, rights, and freedoms.

The proposed changes to Title X are opposed by the medical community, lawmakers and public health experts. Many healthcare providers have signed on to this provider pledge rejecting the gag rule. Major medical associations, like the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Physicians, and others oppose this rule. When a similar version of this rule was introduced in the 1980s, it was met with tremendous outcry and opposition from the medical community. More than 200 members of Congress and over 110 public health organizations have come out in opposition to a gag policy.

The citizens of our region have made it clear: we reject the proposed changes to Title X and this dangerous gag rule that would undermine the patient-provider relationship throughout the medical community. We must make our voices heard and take action to protect Title X for the four million people who rely on the program each year.

Ashleigh McGuire
Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes

Featured image: Volunteers of Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes collect comment cards against the gag rule at their Pride Block Party earlier this month. (Provided Photo)