Imagine being so hell bent on ending safe, legal abortion in the United States that you would intentionally, and knowingly, harm millions of people to do it, and in particular, low-income people.
Imagine denying people access to pelvic exams, pap smears, cervical and breast cancer screenings, HIV screenings, treatments for sexually transmitted illness, urinary tract infections, and basic birth control just because their provider might perform abortions or simply tell someone else where they can get an abortion.
Perform abortions? Fine, no funding for you to provide pelvic exams. Don’t perform abortions but you may tell a patient where they can get one? Fine, no funding for you to provide breast cancer screenings.
Does that sound too crazy to be true? Unfortunately it is. Welcome to America in 2019.
That’s exactly what just happened when the Trump Administration attacked Title X and forced medical providers to comply with a strict gag rule. If you perform abortions at your facility, or even go so far as to tell someone where they could get an abortion, you can no longer receive federal funding to reimburse the non-abortion related healthcare services you provide.
This means providers like Planned Parenthood, who provide basic (non-abortion related) healthcare to millions of people each year, can either stop performing abortions and/or referring patients to abortion providers, or they can no longer receive federal reimbursements for the non-abortion related services they provide under Title X.
In other words, the extreme anti-abortion movement is so committed to ending safe, legal abortion in America that they’re trying to destroy any facility that provides abortion, or even refers a patient to someone else for an abortion, by attacking a law that provides exactly zero dollars for abortion.
Does that sound like total bullshit to you? Good, because it is. And, it’s terrible healthcare policy.
Title X doesn’t just support women’s healthcare. Countless men have taken advantage of this law as well to receive basic healthcare services, too. This says nothing of the millions of men whose partners have accessed birth control because of this law, or the millions of men whose partners are alive today because of the preventive screening services it provides. Yes, men benefit from these laws in many ways, and these issues impact us too.
That being said, men shouldn’t have to benefit from a law like this, or center ourselves as beneficiaries of safe, legal abortion - though we absolutely are and should readily and consistently acknowledge that - to stand up in support of Title X and as partners in the broader fight for reproductive justice and gender equity.
Too often we base our support for something, or more specifically our willingness to directly engage, on a simple question of personal impact. Sure, your girlfriend may take advantage of this law to get birth control. Yes, your daughter should have the right to decide her own future and whether or not to have children. However, we shouldn’t need someone we care for to be impacted in order to speak up.
We as male allies need to engage in this fight because this is a fight for freedom and control. No person can be free if they don’t control their own bodies, their own healthcare, and their own reproductive decisions. And, the freedom to choose isn't freedom at all without access to facilities that ensure the ability to exercise that choice.
While aggressive, and deeply unpopular abortion bans have captured the attention of many in America, the attacks on Title X have fallen under the radar. Most don’t know what it is or why it matters so much. And, this attack shows just how politicized this issue has become.
In 1970, George Herbert Walker Bush led the charge in Congress to pass Title X. It was approved in the House by a vote of 298 to 32, and unanimously in the Senate before being signed into law by President Nixon. Can you imagine anything getting unanimous approval in today’s Senate? That’s how popular and smart this policy was. Correction, how smart Title X is.
But, for the last 40 years, as the radical anti-abortion movement has tried to overturn Roe v. Wade, they’ve deployed a sinister strategy built on limiting access. Sure, abortion is still technically legal in America, but access to facilities that provide these services is incredibly limited for most people.
The attack on Title X specifically is part of this broader effort to rob people, in particular, low-income people who are disproportionately likely to be people of color, of that access as part of the effort to end safe, legal abortion in the United States.
This specific attack is incredibly pernicious because Title X has nothing to do with abortion and millions of people will be harmed because of it.
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