Opinion: Trump-Pence Gag Rule is a Vicious Attack on Basic Healthcare in NYC

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Co-author Rivera addresses a protest against the new federal rule outside City Hall this week.

On Friday, the Trump-Pence administration released its dangerous “gag rule,” despite widespread public outcry from medical professionals, advocates, and lawmakers. This attack on Title X, the nation’s only federal family planning program, is scheduled to go into effect in 60 days.

The gag rule is designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from sexual and reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood, and others that provide comprehensive, medically accurate care, including providing or referring for abortion care. As sitting City Councilmembers in New York City and the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, we unequivocally denounce this vicious attack on our communities and our basic right to comprehensive health care.

Every year, 150,000 people in New York City receive health care through the Title X program. Twenty-two NYC health care providers receive Title X funding, including Planned Parenthood of New York City, 10 NYC Health + Hospital sites, and other community-based providers. This draconian attack on the Title X Family Planning Program will have devastating consequences for vulnerable New Yorkers — and we will not stand for it.

The Title X program is there to help ensure that every person — regardless of where they live, how much money they make, what their background is, or whether or not they have health insurance — has access to basic, preventive sexual and reproductive health care, such as birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and annual health exams.

This gag rule does three things:

• Imposes new rules that are designed to make it impossible for these patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
• Prevents doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers across the country from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion.
• Removes the guarantee that patients will get full and accurate information from their doctor who would now be required to withhold information from a patient about their pregnancy options.

The gag rule is a direct attack on communities who have the most difficulty in accessing affordable preventive health care. Blocking skilled health care providers from giving their patients the complete and medically accurate information they need is cruel and unethical. Period.

Our New York City communities deserve high-quality, compassionate health care always — whether they are seeking abortion, birth control, or a routine wellness visit. Individuals and their health care provider, not politicians, should be making medical decisions. As leaders who care deeply about creating the New York our communities deserve to live in, we will never stop providing health care to the people who rely on us, and we will continue to fight this outrageous and unjust policy.

We stand united with the people of New York and the city we envision — one where all people can thrive, and can be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their futures.

Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera are co-chairs of the New York City Council Women’s Caucus. Laura McQuade is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City.

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