Trump's Unethical and Dangerous Gag Rule Puts Health Care for 800,000 African Americans at Risk
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Rule blocks access to essential health care and endangers doctor-patient trust
Washington, DC - Today, the Trump-Pence administration finalized a gag rule that undermines Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, and makes it illegal for health care providers in the program to refer patients for an abortion. This leaves patients without the full information about their medical options and endangers the trust that patients have in their health care providers. Many health centers would be unable to continue participating in the program, putting the health care of the four million patients who access care through Title X — including more than 800,000 African Americans — at risk. This rule restricts access even further by creating new cost prohibitive, unnecessary, and unworkable “physical separation” restrictions specifically designed to stop Planned Parenthood and other health care providers who provide abortion from participating in Title X.
Decades of mistreatment from the medical community have created deep roots of mistrust in many African-American communities. Not only will the gag rule block access to critical health care like birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment but it could also deepen that mistrust and stop people from seeking lifesaving care.
Statement from Dr. Niva Lubin-Johnson, President:
“The Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule will undo the progress the National Medical Association has made in reconciling the mistrust that many African-Americans have for the medical system. Demanding that health care providers withhold information from our patients is a radical departure from the way health care has operated in this country until now, and a clear violation of medical ethics.
“Like other policies being advanced by the Trump-Pence administration, this rule will have dire and disproportionate consequences for African-American patients, who make up 22 percent of people who access health care through Title X. As medical providers, we cannot silently stand by and allow the Trump administration to continue to chip away at access to and advances in health care. We have a responsibility to do right by our patients, and that means doing everything in our power to put an end to this dangerous and unethical rule.”
If health care providers like Planned Parenthood — which serves 41 percent (1.6 million) of the four million people who rely on Title X health centers — can no longer participate in the Title X program, it would force Title X providers to increase their already overburdened caseloads by an average of 70 percent. Many community health centers have said they’re unable to fill this gap, which could leave millions of people in a program designed to serve people struggling to make ends meet without access to birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential reproductive health care.
The National Medical Association is proud to stand alongside the American Medical Association, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Physicians in opposition to this rule. In addition, more than 200 members of Congress and 100 public health organizations have come out in opposition to a gag policy. This rule is also opposed by the general public. When the rule was announced, more than 500,000 Americans voiced their opposition by submitting comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The National Medical Association is the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine. The NMA is the oldest organization of African American professionals in America representing the over 50,000 African American physicians and the patients we serve in the United states and its territories.