LA County to join fight supporting women’s health, against ‘domestic gag rule’

On March 4, the Trump Administration issued a new regulation in the Federal Registrar barring abortion providers and organizations that provide abortion referrals from accessing federal family planning funds. In response to this unconstitutional attack on women’s health, today the Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, directing County Counsel to join LA County, or to file an amicus “friend of the court” brief, in support of the State of California’s lawsuit challenging this new federal regulation, also known as the ‘domestic gag rule.’

“The Trump Administration’s latest attack on women’s health diminishes the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship and impacts the quality of healthcare accessed by four million people throughout the country,” said Supervisor Solis. “Title X provides essential funding for LA County’s safety net. Everyone deserves access to high-quality medical care, and patients are entitled to know all the options available to them. Title X ensures that people with low incomes have access to family planning resources, and gives them control over their lives, their health, and their economic security. The Trump Administration wants to take all of that away, but LA County will fight back.”

“With this action, the Trump administration is proposing to deprive Americans, primarily low-income women, and hundreds of thousands of LA County residents, of a full range of needed reproductive health services,” said Supervisor Kuehl. “To counter this denial of basic health care access to women and their families, the Supervisors are ready and eager to join the state effort to prevent this new rule from being implemented.“

The domestic gag rule requires healthcare providers to withhold full, accurate, and crucial medical information from patients about pregnancy options. This interference with the doctor-patient relationship is contrary to a physician’s oath to “do no harm,” gags Title X-funded agencies, and reduces the high quality of care that LA County residents deserve. The implementation of the domestic gag rule could go into effect in less than two months, but court challenges could cause a delay.

“This gag rule is just the latest step in the Trump-Pence Administration’s efforts to ban abortion, limit access to sexual and reproductive health care, and block care at Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Celinda Vázquez, External Affairs VP of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “Together we must oppose this dangerous rule and fight for Angelenos health and rights because health care is a human right. Thank you to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for standing with the women, men, and teens who rely on Title X-funded health centers for essential reproductive health care.”

Should the Trump Administration’s domestic gag rule go into effect, LA County residents would face particular hardships. Essential Access Health is the Title X grantee for the state of California and leads the largest and most diverse Title X system in the nation. In 2017, Essential Access Health distributed Title X funding to nearly 130 health centers in LA County operated by the County’s Department of Health Care Services, community clinics and health centers, and Planned Parenthood affiliates collectively serving over 260,000 low-income women, men, and teens. More than 52% of Title X patients in LA County are uninsured. Nearly one-quarter of all women who would be affected by this new regulation live in California. At the national level, of the four million people served by Title X, two-thirds live under the federal poverty level and nearly half are uninsured.

Today’s action supports the State of California’s March 4th lawsuit challenging the domestic gag rule against the Trump Administration. Essential Access Health has also filed a separate lawsuit to block the regulations from taking effect.

In 1970, Congress established Title X, which provides high-quality family planning services and other preventative care to low-income and uninsured individuals who would otherwise be unable to access healthcare. Title X is the sole federal program dedicated to providing family planning services, including birth control, contraception education, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, wellness checks, cancer screenings, and other livesaving treatment.