Trump Continues His Assault On Poor Women

By Donald A. Collins | 5 September 2019
Church and State

(Credit: Steve Rainwater / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

My OP ED on the effect of Trump’s attack on Title X was strongly re-enforced by this latest paper from the prestigious Guttmacher Institute. You can read my OP ED here.

This resort to vicious, inhumane and despicable behavior by Trump and his administration contrasts so sharply with the capacity of both parties to think of the general welfare of women and especially those in need of help. This sharply contrasts with how much good can come with enlightened bipartisan cooperation!

Recall about this time, Nixon got Title X started with bipartisan blessings.

Here’s a small example of what bipartisan thinking can do: In 1967 I was a foundation executive in Pittsburgh when Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) NYC HQ Vice President Frederick Jaffee and his assistant Jeannie Rosoff asked at a dinner with me at the Duquesne Club, if I could recommend that my trustees make a $50,000 grant to funding to allow them to make a presentation to the senior staff at the US Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) to find out if they would favor PPFA forming a new department, which Fred then called the Center for Family Planning Program Development.

The HEW (now the HHR) officials enthusiastically embraced the concept. Then in 1968 at the suggestion of Alfred Moran, EVP at PPNYC, it became a separate affiliate of PPFA, called the Guttmacher Institute. I briefly joined its national oversight board, attending a few meetings, most pleased to see what that early grant had produced. It became a fully independent entity in 1977.

As the Institute’s web site now tells us

Now in its fifth decade, the Guttmacher Institute remains committed to the mission and goals that led to its creation. At that time, Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon had begun to call the public’s attention to the problem of unplanned and unwanted childbearing and its consequences for individual women and men, their children and their communities both at home and abroad. Concurrently, the United States Congress was taking its first steps toward the development of an international population assistance program, as well as a multifaceted, national program aimed at providing equitable access to modern methods of birth control in the United States. By integrating nonpartisan social science research, policy analysis and public education, the Center hoped to provide a factual basis for the development of sound governmental policies and for public consideration of the sensitive issues involved in the promotion of reproductive health and rights. This purpose and commitment continue today.

The Guttmacher Institute maintains offices in New York and Washington. Its current staff of more than 100 comprises demographers, social scientists, public policy analysts, editors, writers, communications specialists, and financial and technical personnel. A few of its employees have been with the organization for most of its existence, and an affiliation that goes back 10 or 15 years is not unusual. The Institute’s work is guided by a 32-member board made up of eminent professionals from a rich variety of disciplines, as well as civic leaders from across the United States and around the world. The Guttmacher Institute’s annual budget of approximately $20 million is derived largely from private foundations, government agencies, multilateral organizations and individual contributions.

Now I was most pleased to read that the Institute continues to speak truth on these same key women’s reproduction issues, but deeply saddened to realize that with the loss by PPFA and others of Title X funding after decades of successful operation.

Our government seems to have degenerated into so many needless and dangerous factional disputes! For example with the 2020 elections looming, Trump can’t even make an appointment of enough Commissioners to make the Federal Election Commission operative.

The Trump administration has punched a massive hole in the nation’s safety-net family planning program by driving out many health care providers, including those affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

It’s still too early to fully grasp the impact of the new regulations—collectively referred to as the domestic gag rule—governing the Title X program. But available records, all based off Guttmacher’s 2015 data, indicate that it could be severe. Overall, 41% of contraceptive clients served by Title X-funded providers were served at Planned Parenthood health centers.

The administration finalized its overhaul of the Title X regulations in March 2019, after nearly two years of laying the groundwork. These changes impose coercive standards of care on patients, subvert the nationwide network of family planning providers that Title X supports, and diminish access to affordable care.

On August 19, 2019, all Title X grantees were required to certify their “good faith” intent to comply with the Trump administration’s gag rule. This has forced providers to pit their ability to obtain urgently needed financial resources against their patients’ right to unbiased and complete information, counseling and referral. Whatever path providers may choose, it comes at the expense of high-quality family planning care for the four million people who rely on Title X-funded services each year.

The impact of the gag rule extends far beyond Planned Parenthood’s departure. News sources report that state health agencies in multiple states, including Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as well as the statewide private nonprofit grantee in Maine, have also exited the program, and others may join them.

Each component of the new regulations is harmful. Taken together, the domestic gag rule is blatantly coercive and a violation of medical ethics and patients’ rights. As a cornerstone of the Trump administration’s ideological agenda against reproductive rights, the gag rule is designed to reduce access to family planning care for people with low incomes and force providers to make harmful compromises.

What horrendous behavior from this President! Other examples compound his record daily.

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Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
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