New Jersey officials and advocates rally against changes to Title X

Congressional leaders and Planned Parenthood supporters held a news conference to oppose changes to Title X.

“This is about taking away women’s basic rights,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Outside the news conference, pro-life advocates rallied in support of the Trump administration’s proposals.

“It’s about time that this has happened,” said Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life.

Title X is a federal grant program that provides funding for family planning and sexual health services. It’s designed to cater specifically to low-income populations. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services sent almost $9 million to New Jersey to serve over 100,000 patients — 72 percent of which received their care from a Planned Parenthood clinic.

“It was very costly to see a traditional doctor as regularly as I needed to and Planned Parenthood also had more flexible scheduling,” said client Natasha. “So between the affordability of the clinic and the accessibility of their appointments, it wound up being the best option for me.”

The Trump administration has proposed making changes to Title X that grantees would have to comply with – like prohibiting doctors from discussing abortion with patients, requiring physical and financial separation between any facility that provides abortion, and adding abstinence to the list of acceptable contraception options.

“For decades, American taxpayers have been wrongfully forced to subsidize the abortion industry through Title X federal funding. So today, we have kept another promise. My administration has proposed a new rule to prohibit Title X funding from going to any clinic that performs abortions,” President Donald Trump said at the Susan B. Anthony Campaign for Life Gala in May.

Casey Olesko, communications manager of Planned Parenthood New Jersey, said their health centers are there primarily to give women a place to go to get birth control, STD testing, breast and cervical cancer screening and pregnancy testing. She says the proposed changes would impact an entire community.

“This is a huge decision to make because it may end up that health centers will have to close their doors and patients will go without care,” said Olesko.

“Even if you’re opposed to abortion, why would you be opposed to contraceptive services? Why are you opposed to family planning services,” asked Rep. Frank Pallone.

“They’re the largest abortion provider in the nation and they receive hundreds of millions of dollars of our tax money every year and it’s about time that somebody is doing something,” Tasy said.

Tasy argues there’s a simple solution if they want taxpayer money.

“Separate your facilities. They’re not willing to do it because they make most of their money off of abortion,” she said.

Olesko says that many health centers simply do not have the resources to comply with these requirements, and that as a nonprofit, any income generated goes back into providing quality health care.