• Attorney General Bill Schuette’s private gubernatorial fundraiser, attended by Vice President Mike Pence, attracted protestors to the front of the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham on June 15. BTL photo: Eve Kucharski

Planned Parenthood of Michigan Takes Stand Against Title X Gag Rule

Eve Kucharski
By | 2018-06-20T16:07:41-04:00 June 20th, 2018|Michigan, News|

On Friday, June 15, Birmingham residents likely heard the chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Schuette, Pence have got to go!” That was just one of many rallying calls that protestors shouted as they marched up Henrietta Street outside of the Townsend Hotel — the location of Attorney General Bill Schuette’s private gubernatorial fundraiser, attended by Vice President Mike Pence. More than two dozen picketers were among the crowd, and the event was well-represented by a variety of groups and organizations: Clean Water Action, Progress Michigan, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Flint Rising and the Human Rights Campaign. Among the protestors were also representatives from Planned Parenthood, currently standing in opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed reinstatement of a Reagan-era gag rule for Title X funding.
“I am out here today standing up and giving voice to our patients who depend on Planned Parenthood for life-saving, accessible, inclusive care for important services like cancer screenings, STI testing, birth control and yes, even abortions,” said Emily Clancy, Planned Parenthood’s East Michigan community organizer. “We’re out here today because Attorney General Bill Schuette has stood against Planned Parenthood in every position of government he’s held in Michigan legislature. And with no doubt he will support the extreme restriction the Trump-Pence administration will pass to block patients who access Title X from coming to Planned Parenthood.”
Title X is the nation’s only federal grant program that provides the public with contraceptives and family planning services. The proposed reinstatement would stop funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion services, regardless of their other offerings.
Planned Parenthood of Michigan Director of Media and Communications Ruth Lednicer said that what many who support the Trump administration’s push to end Title X funding might not understand is that there are already processes in place that prevent public funding from being used for abortion services.
“There is a law in place called the Hyde Amendment which prohibits federal funds to be used to pay for abortion. So, whether you’re on Medicaid, Title X or privately insured, you’re going to be paying out of pocket for that. What federal funds do pay for is all the things that President Nixon put in place, which is for people to have control over reproduction and to have access to family planning,” Lednicer said. “We actually see 70 percent of the Title X patients in the state of Michigan. So, without us here there’s nowhere else they can go.”
And in Michigan, that 70 percent statistic translated into just over 40,000 people in 2017. Lednicer said that if passed, the budget cut will gouge out a chunk of about $4.4 million received from national Title X funding — a third of the organization’s $12 million annual service price tag across its 19 Michigan health care centers. Lednicer said that the majority of the services Planned Parenthood provides are not abortion-related, calling the proposal, “Bad law, designed to prevent women from getting all their options.”
“Abortion is less than 5 percent of what we do. The number one thing that people come to us for is birth control followed very closely thereafter by STI testing and treatment. We also do cancer screenings and pap smears, breast exams, HIV testing,” Lednicer said. “We do all the things that people need for reproductive health and well-being. I said to someone recently, ‘Can you imagine, as a man, going to see a doctor for treatment and there’s three options for treatment and you’re only told two?’ That says so much about how we value women.”
And though Planned Parenthood doesn’t collect statistics on the sexual orientation of any of its patients, officials at Corktown Health Center — and LGBTQ-oriented health organization — said that this budget slash could have far-reaching affects for many people in the LGBTQ community, too.
“Here at Corktown, we recognize that Planned Parenthood has been a close ally and friend for many years, going back to the earliest days of the HIV crisis in the U.S.,” said Corktown Health Chief Development Officer Patrick Yankee. “Recently, Planned Parenthood began operating two Pop Up Clinics each month here at Corktown Center, making it easier for women in LGBT communities to access important screening and related services. This attack on even the most basic health care services by this current administration renews our commitment to build Michigan’s first medical home to address the longstanding health disparities in our community.”
For now, however, the gag rule is simply a proposal on which the public can comment through July 31. It’s at that point that those comments will be reviewed and Lednicer said that if the proposed change were to take hold, that various organizations would sue to repeal them. Lednicer added that whatever the outcome, Planned Parenthood would not stop providing its abortion services.
“We’re not going to stop because it is something that is part of reproductive health care if that’s what someone chooses, and we’re not going to stop trying to service as many people as we can and in all the ways we can,” she said. “Planned parenthood was started with the idea that every child should be a wanted child, so that people can have the ability to decide if and when they want to be parents.”
For more information about the gag rule and how it will potentially affect Planned Parenthood and its services, go to plannedparenthood.org or weareplannedparenthoodaction.org.

About the Author:

Eve Kucharski
Writing became my life when I enrolled at Michigan State University's journalism program. In May 2017, I earned my bachelor's degree in journalism with a concentration in electronic news media. I am thrilled to be working as an editorial assistant at Between The Lines.