Title X ‘gag rule’ limits Student Health Services

President Donald Trump’s administration put restrictions on Title X earlier this year.

Student Health Services cannot refer students to abortion services under changes to Title X. | CLAUDIA SALVATO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Due to changes in Title X funding, a federal grant reserved for Family Planning, staff at the Temple Student Health Services can no longer refer patients seeking an abortion to a clinic.

Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing family planning health care to people and programs who are considered low-income or under-insured, according to the Physicians for Reproductive Health. 

President Donald Trump’s administration changed Title X’s provisions in February; any program that offers abortions or refers patients to a separate location risks losing funding.

Reproductive rights advocates are dubbing the change a “gag rule,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, as it limits health care professionals’ ability to communicate and provide complete care to their patients. 

Sarah Sherr, a nurse practitioner at SHS, said healthcare workers want to communicate with their patients openly but are being prevented from doing so by the revisions to Title X.

“It creates an ethical dilemma because legally we can’t [refer patients to abortion care], but morally it feels wrong not to tell patients all their options,” Sherr said.

Carla Castillo, a junior neuroscience major, said she is concerned about how the gag rule will affect pregnant, college-aged women. 

Students who have children are less likely to graduate than childless college students, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. 

“It’s maintaining a cycle of poverty … I think everyone needs to know about this,” Castillo added. “Men aren’t going to be on the hook for a baby, they can get off scot-free most of the time. They can walk out.” 

Jiali Dong, a 2019 public health alumna, said the gag rule jeopardizes women’s access to safe and legal abortion as a form of family planning. 

“Reproductive health is becoming more important as people want to have their families later in life,” Dong said. 

“A few generations before they were getting married earlier. Nowadays women want to have more choice, and strive for their own professional life.” 

Planned Parenthood recently refused Title X funding due to new restrictions from the gag rule because in some rural communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of services such as abortion, The New York Times reported. Over 4 million patients rely on Title X annually, according to Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“Many of these patients are low-income, young, uninsured or people of color, showing the Trump-Pence administration’s disinterest in protecting the most vulnerable,” said Christina Borst, Temple Democrats president and senior strategic communication and political science double major. 

Borst volunteered with Planned Parenthood’s health center advocacy program when the gag rule was announced.

Students can research their options regarding reproductive healthcare on the ‘Family Planning’ tab available through SHS website.

“Your gender identity or the amount of money you have should not directly correlate to your level of access to affordable health care,” Borst added. “Politicizing reproductive health is another way to policewomen and their bodies. Everyone is deserving of making choices about their care.”

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