Udall, Heinrich Call On Mitch McConnell To Drop Republican Efforts To Gut Family Planning Centers

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich sent a letter, led by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), to Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling on him to “protect the health and wellbeing of millions of women” by committing not to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by House Republicans seeking to overturn rules protecting Title X health centers.

“For women in every U.S. state and especially in rural and struggling communities, Title X health centers are a vital resource for preventive and primary care,” wrote the Senators. “It is critical that you take a stand and protect women’s health against efforts to undermine reproductive health care and roll back women’s health advances.”

In 2015 alone, Title X provided basic primary and preventive health care services such as pap tests, breast exams, and HIV testing to more than four million low-income women and men at over 4,000 health centers. In December 2016, the Obama Administration clarified and reinforced existing protections in the Title X program to ensure no qualified provider is excluded from eligibility for federal funding, and guarantee that women and LGBT people have access to the care entitled to them under federal law.

This month, House Republicans jammed through resolutions under the Congressional Review Act which would overturn this important regulation, limiting access to care for women and permitting discrimination against family planning providers. In the letter, Senate Democrats warn Leader McConnell that these efforts would “deny women access to this care and permit discrimination against providers,” resulting in family planning providers losing access to federal family planning resources.

The list of groups opposing the effort to overturn the Title X protections can be found here.

The letter is below and a PDF can be found here.

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Leader, U.S. Senate

S-221 Capitol Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-0001

Dear Leader McConnell:

We write today with great concern regarding Republican efforts to undermine care at our nation's family planning clinics. For women in every U.S. state and especially in rural and struggling communities, Title X health centers are a vital resource for preventive and primary care.  The recent vote in the Houseto overturn rules protecting Title X health centers 2 would deny women access to this care and permit discrimination against providers. We urge you to protect the health and wellbeing of millions of women by committing not to bring this harmful legislation to the Senate floor.  

The Title X family planning provider network is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. In 2015, Title X provided basic primary and preventive health care services such as pap tests, breast exams, and HIV testing to more than four million low-income women and men at over 4,000 health centers.3 In large part due to this work, the U.S. unintended pregnancy rate is at a 30-year low, and rates of teenage pregnancy are the lowest in our nation's history. The success of the program is dependent on funding that is awarded and available to the most qualified health care providers. Without this assurance, family planning providers lose access to federal family planning resources and in turn have fewer resources to see patients, resulting in less access to care.  

The Title X regulation passed during the Obama Administration clarifies and reinforces existing protections in the Title X program to ensure no qualified provider is excluded from eligibility for federal funding, and guarantees that women and LGBT people have access to the care entitled to them under federal law. H.J. Res. 43 and S.J. Res. 13 are resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which would overturn this important regulation, limiting access to care for women and permitting discrimination against family planning providers.

Multiple health care providers made clear that discrimination against any health care provider is wrong, and have come out opposed to legislative efforts to overturn the Title X regulation. These include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Women's Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses, and the American Association of Family Physicians. In their statement, these providers note the danger of permitting such discrimination between different health care providers, noting, "the move would further reduce, and in many cases eliminate, low-income and adolescent patient's access to essential health care by discriminating against providers for reasons unrelated to medical evidence or best practices". 4 A list of organizations opposing this measure is attached for your awareness.

Family planning services, like those provided at Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers, should be available to all women, no matter where they live or how much money they make. It is critical that you take a stand and protect women's health against efforts to undermine reproductive health care and roll back women's health advances.

Sincerely,