March Comes in Like a Lion

Happy International Women’s Day (IWD)! The first gathering that brought about IWD took place in 1911 and included over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. March 8th has since become a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, hence IWD’s campaign trademark #BalanceforBetter.

This is also a time to fight for access to confidential, affordable, high-quality family planning and reproductive health services for those struggling financially or who are otherwise vulnerable and in need of care. The importance of advocating is critical now, because the final Title X rule was published in the Federal Register this past Monday, making changes to the regulations governing the national Title X family planning program.

Title X was signed into law by President Nixon in 1970 after being shepherded through Congress by then Congressman George Herbert Walker Bush and provides contraception, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment and other preventive services to low-income women, men and adolescents nation-wide. Our very own CEO, Bré, stated changes to rules affecting Title X will have a “significantly negative impact on a program created to equalize access to modern methods of birth control for poor and low-income women.”

Now more than ever, Title X is at the center of a once in a lifetime fight.  Numerous organizations, states’ attorneys general and individuals are standing up in protest to changes that would negatively affect the program. The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) with the ACLU and the Washington State Attorney General filed suit against these changes.  NFPRHA’s President and CEO Clare Coleman said, “the rule defies widely shared, fundamental American values on the importance of confidentiality, dignity and respect.”

Another organization who joined the pushback in response to these new rules published Monday is the American Medical Association (AMA). The President of the AMA stated, “because of the administration’s overreach and interference in health care decision making [imposed by these new rules], physicians will be prohibited from having open, frank conversations with their patients about all their healthcare options. This blatant violation of patients’ rights under the Code of Medical Ethics is untenable.”

Twenty-one states filed a lawsuit opposing the rule changes on Monday, the very day they were published. The count is now up to twenty-three states, nearly half of the nation! We encourage you to reach out to elected officials, both locally and nationally, to express deep concern about the rule, which will cripple patients’ abilities to access much needed family planning and reproductive health care.

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