With the Title X federal grant program under new direction, changes have been proposed that would restrict the way funds are distributed. Healthcare clinics funded by Title X help women in a variety of ways, and preserving this program is crucial in helping to empower women nationwide.
The History of Title X
In the 1960’s, extensive research showed that a lack of access to contraceptives, particularly among lower-income women, was increasing poverty and preventing women from participating in the workforce and completing an education. With strong bipartisan support, Congress enacted Title X in 1970, which allowed for publicly funded family planning resources. This furthered two important societal goals: alleviating poverty and improving the health of women and children.
Since its inception, thousands of family planning clinics nationwide have received Title X funds, including Planned Parenthood, and others run by state, county, and local health departments. Title X-supported clinics are open to all women, regardless of age, income, or health insurance status.
Potential Changes to Title X
The Title X program is now under the direction of Dr. Diane Foley, the former chief executive of Life Network, a Christian organization which runs pro-life pregnancy centers. As a result, it is widely expected that changes will be made to the way Title X federal dollars are directed. Specifically, federal dollars would be directed only to clinics that do not discuss or refer patients to abortion providers.
This restriction would have implications for numerous clinics around the country, many of which would be forced to close due to lack of funding. This would have significant consequences for women, who have benefited greatly from the Title X program since its inception in 1970.
The following are five ways that the Title X program has helped to empower women over the last several decades:
1) Title X-funded clinics often serve rural communities
Title X-funded clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, are particularly beneficial for women living in rural communities. Although 25% of the population lives in rural areas, only 10% of physicians operate in rural America. Additionally, research shows that women in rural areas experience OB/GYN and other provider shortages, and often have to travel long distances in order to receive health care. That’s why clinics like Planned Parenthood, 56% of which are in rural or medically underserved areas, are so important.
2) Title X-funded clinics provide women with access to a full range of high-quality contraceptive care
According to the Guttmacher Institute, clinics funded by Title X are more likely to offer a full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods compared to clinics not funded by Title X.
Having a wide variety of options available allows women to select the method that will work best for them, and will align with their family-planning goals. Some women may prefer to take oral contraceptives, whereas other women may want a longer-lasting form of contraception, such as an IUD. Title X-funded clinics give women that choice.
3) Women with access to Title X-funded clinics are empowered economically
Clinics funded by Title X provide women with easier, more affordable access to contraception, which gives them greater control over whether and when to have children. Women benefit economically from this in numerous ways, as outlined in a report published by the Guttmacher Institute.
Research shows that providing women with access to contraception is linked to their attainment of postsecondary education and employment, increased earning power, and a narrowing of the gender pay gap.
Additionally, studies show that teenage pregnancy interferes with young women’s ability to graduate high school and college, which can have lasting economic implications.
Title X-supported clinics decrease rates of both unintended and teen pregnancies, resulting in economic empowerment for a greater number of women.
4) Title X provides women with easier, more affordable access to a full range of reproductive health services
Title X-funded clinics provide far more than contraception. Women often receive other types of health services, including preconception healthcare and counseling, STI testing and treatment, vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), and Pap tests for early detection of cervical cancer.
For many lower-income women, Title-X funded clinics are the only place for them to receive these important health services.
5) Title X ensures that women are more informed
The Title X program requires that all pregnant patients obtaining care from a Title-X funded clinic receive neutral, factual, and non-directive information regarding pregnancy options. This guarantee is in line with the American Academy of Physician Assistant’s (AAPA) Guidelines for Ethical Conduct, which states that physicians have a “duty to protect and foster an individual patient’s free and informed choices”. Women deserve to be fully informed, particularly when seeking information from a physician.
Grace Malloy is a 28-year-old living in the Greater Boston area, with interests in writing, public service, and women’s rights. While working as a software support specialist, she received her Masters Degree in Public Administration – a challenging yet fulfilling experience. She aspires to use her strengths and passions to make a positive impact on her community.