POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

What will the Title X ‘gag rule’ mean for New Jersey?

BY Joanna Gagis, Producer/Correspondent |

A group of advocates and health care providers joined Rep. Donald Norcross in Camden Monday to talk about the impact of the Trump administration’s Title X ‘gag rule’, particularly on women and girls of color.

“While we’ve seen patients of every age, race, ethnicity and gender expressions, the majority of Title X patients in New Jersey are people of color. And at Planned Parenthood in New Jersey, nearly 69% of patients are people of color,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, legislative and political director for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ.

Title X funding provides federal grants for reproductive health including contraception services, STI testing and treatment, pregnancy testing and cancer screenings. A new restriction by the Trump administration, that’s set to take effect in May, would prevent any provider receiving Title X funding from discussing or referring abortion services during patient visits.

“We’re taking action to stop Title X funding from going to any organization that performs abortions across this country. And this president signed into law, a law that allows states to withhold federal funding from abortion providers. And it was my high honor as vice president to cast the tie breaking vote to empower all 50 states to defund Planned Parenthood,” said Vice President Mike Pence.

“When you think about Planned Parenthood, most people will just think about abortion. But it’s much more than abortion,” said Camden County East NAACP President Lloyd Henderson.

Henderson says the restrictions are medically immoral.

“We believe that it’s basically telling the health care provider to commit medical malpractice because if you’re not giving a full range of option, you’re leaving out something. That could be considered malpractice,” he said.

Norcross called it un-American and cited the Hippocratic oath that requires physicians to share the scientific gains of the physicians who have come before them.

“When we look at the city of Camden where we are now, health care is one of the principal issues for every man, woman and child in this city — the access to health care. Because as we know, those who walk through this door are here for a variety of issues,” Norcross said.

Proponents hope to decrease abortion rates across the country, but Norcross says limiting access to conversations about abortion actually has the opposite effect. He cited statistics during the Bush administration’s Title X “gag rule” from 2000 to 2008.

“Well what happened is just the opposite of what the Bush administration was hoping would happen. Abortions went up by almost 13%. So we understand that when you don’t have the financial means and the access, and you don’t have the information, there’s just the opposite effect so the abortion rate went up,” he said.

The gag rule is scheduled to take effect May 3. There is litigation before the federal appeals court, but it’s doubtful any judgment will come in the next two weeks.