Trump’s HHS is now intentionally diverting Title X funds (read: your tax dollars) to anti-choice, anti-birth control organizations.
Across the country, nearly 4,000 clinics serve the roughly 4,000,000 Americans who rely on Title X (ten) funds to access basic reproductive healthcare services. Title X is the national program for affordable birth control, first created in 1970 to help provide low-cost or free birth control options to low-income people. You’ve probably heard by now that Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is unethically stripping those critical Title X funds from reproductive healthcare providers. But what you may not know is that it gets even worse: HHS is now intentionally diverting Title X funds (read: your tax dollars) to anti-choice, anti-birth control organizations.
Stripping Funds away from Abortion Providers
The Trump-Pence administration’s finalized “domestic gag rule” prohibits Title X clinics from providing abortion care for their patients or even referring those patients for abortion care, even if a patient specifically requests it. In short, Trump’s HHS has bullied abortion providers into two impossible choices — stop providing abortion care and comprehensive medical information to patients who need it or lose the funding that helps them provide birth control access to the low-income folks who rely on them for care. Both are devastating options that will harm people across the country, just as the Trump-Pence administration and their anti-choice allies intend. Trump’s goal here is clear: Coerce abortion providers into cutting their services and strip affordable birth control access away from low-income people.
We already live in a country where 90% of counties have ZERO abortion providers, and abortion access is under constant threat from many state legislatures. Rather than make abortion care even more difficult to access, many reproductive healthcare providers across the country, such as Planned Parenthood, were forced to make the extremely difficult decision to withdraw from the Title X program. Despite these clinics doing all they can to continue serving low-income patients, many communities are already seeing the gag rule’s horrific effects. There are women like West Virginian Meredith, who now cannot access the birth control shots she used to get every three months, and there are women like Minnesotan Jessica who can no longer afford her birth control pills after the Trump administration’s rule increased the cost from $30 a month out-of-pocket to $200 a month out-of-pocket. Just this week, two more reproductive healthcare clinics in Ohio were forced to shut down because of the immense restrictions this rule imposes. It’s hard to know how many patients will have nowhere else to turn.
Real people all across the country — especially people of color, young people, low-income people, rural people, women, and trans people, and LGBTQ people — are losing their access to reproductive healthcare. For the 60% of U.S. women who rely on Title X to get reproductive health services, the care they receive through the program is the ONLY healthcare they get all year. That single source of care is now hanging in the balance.
Diverting Tax Dollars Into Anti-Choice Organizations
It’s absolutely no coincidence that the domestic gag rule is taking Title X funds away from reproductive healthcare clinics at the same time that HHS is pumping those funds into anti-choice organizations. It’s also no coincidence that the Trump official who now oversees Title X is a former administrator of these exact same organizations, known as fake women’s health centers or so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” This is a strategic and intentional re-structuring of Title X that is designed to impose extreme right-wing values on our bodies and decimate access to abortion care, birth control, and medically-accurate reproductive health information. While actual healthcare providers are losing crucial funds, the Trump-Pence administration is diverting those funds into fake women’s health centers like Obria Group, which has now been gifted MILLIONS in tax dollars.
Obria doesn’t offer abortion services or even hormonal birth control, despite claiming it provides “comprehensive reproductive healthcare services.” Yes, you read that right. The Trump-Administration is sending federal funding for contraception to some organizations that often don’t even prescribe birth control. In fact, Obria CEO and anti-choice activist Kathleen Bravo said she would close their doors before she allowed birth control prescriptions to be a service they offer.
On the other hand, Obria definitely does provide “abortion pill reversal,” an unproven treatment that has NOT been tested for safety or effectiveness and is NOT supported by evidence-based medical studies. Basically, this ridiculous anti-choice tactic has never even been shown to exist. But that hasn’t stopped Obria from spreading this disinformation.
In addition to its brick and mortar centers, Obria also has its own telemedicine app called “Obria Direct,” which it bills as a tool designed to “Get in touch with a medical professional when you need one most.” Interestingly enough, the app has clarified in the fine print of its consent agreement that the information Obria provides is “NOT MEDICAL CARE AND ADVICE.” That pretty much nails it.
Despite its appearances, nothing about Obria is unbiased medical care or advice. Obria is a religiously-affiliated, anti-choice group masquerading as a healthcare provider. The organization’s National Advisory Board is made up of prominent leaders from anti-choice extremist organizations like Susan B. Anthony List, Live Action, Students for Life, and Center for Medical Progress. Like the thousands of other fake women’s health centers across the country that serve as propaganda centers for the anti-choice movement, Obria seeks to position itself as an actual healthcare provider to lure pregnant people in and lie to them about the medical facts of abortion and hormonal birth control options. And thanks to the Trump-Pence administration, they’re now using Title X funds to do it.
Shocker: It Doesn’t Work
While Trump’s domestic gag rule is unprecedented, states like Texas have tried out a similar policy — with absolutely catastrophic results. In 2011 Texas stripped family planning funds from abortion providers, forcing more than 25% of reproductive healthcare clinics across the state to close. By 2014, 96% of Texas counties had zero abortion providers, just as the state’s conservative legislature intended. Rather than funding actual healthcare, anti-choice politicians diverted millions and millions of dollars to the anti-choice organization “Heidi Group,” who is conveniently now associated with Obria. Heidi Group was never qualified to provide reproductive healthcare, despite promising it would serve 69,000 Texans in its first year receiving state funds. The organization spent most of the taxpayer money it was given and only provided services to 3,300 people. Meanwhile, there was a 27% spike in unintended pregnancies for low-income people enrolled in Medicaid, and pregnancy-related deaths in Texas DOUBLED.
It’s no surprise that when anti-choice politicians cut off people’s access to actual reproductive healthcare and replace it with anti-science ideology, patients and communities suffer. Without critical funds, clinics close or are forced to turn low-income patients away without help. Fewer people get birth control, mammograms, STI testing and treatment, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, and basic wellness exams — all in the name of cutting off access to abortion care. There’s no doubt about it: The Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule will devastate reproductive healthcare across the country.