The Trump administration is holding true to the president’s campaign trail promise to wage a war on women, and the women who are suffering the greatest effects of the president’s hateful policies remain low-income women of color.
Under Title X, reproductive healthcare programs can apply to receive federal funding in order to provide family planning and reproductive healthcare services for low-income patients — all of whom are thereby able to access critical family planning services and reproductive healthcare for little or no cost. Title X funding helps to maintain several community-based reproductive healthcare clinics across the clinic that offer contraceptive services, prenatal care, routine tests and screenings, and treatment for sexually-transmitted infection.
Pandering to his Far Right anti-abortion base, the president’s administration instituted a new federal rule earlier this year that would prevent any reproductive healthcare provider that receives Title X funds from helping patients learn from their doctor where they can obtain abortion services, even if through medically-informed counseling the patient decides that an abortion is the best course of action. This ‘gag rule’ — which effectively restricts the information a patient can receive from their doctor — is a heinous affront to reproductive healthcare access, and it will specifically impact low-income women of colour who rely on Planned Parenthood for family planning and reproductive healthcare access, including thousands of Asian American women.
Today, Planned Parenthood announced that due to the Trump administration’s gag rule, it would no longer accept Title X funding, threatening the network of clinics that Planned Parenthood operates across the country.
As I’ve written previously on this blog, Asian American women are rarely thought about when it comes to the national discourse around reproductive justice and abortion access, and specifically with regard to how our community will be impacted by the Far Right’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. And yet, Asian Americans are among some of the many patients who rely on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive healthcare.
Planned Parenthood clinics service over 40% of patients who receive reproductive care under Title X. In many communities, over 70% of patients who use Planned Parenthood are women of colour, including Asian American women. Indeed, Asian Americans have lower rates of private healthcare coverage compared to white Americans, and the public insurance coverage rate is nearly 40% in some Asian American ethnic subgroups. 7.8% of Asian Americans have little or no healthcare coverage.
The pernicious Model Minority Myth might lead some to erroneously assume that Asian Americans do not use abortion services or need STI care; nothing could be further from the truth. Studies show that one-third of Asian American youth are sexually active by the age of 18, and yet Asian Americans are less likely to use contraception — likely due to the combined effect of poorer access to reproductive healthcare services or early sexual health education. Consequently, older national studies have reported that Asian American women may seek an abortion at twice the rate of white women. (It remains unclear if that number still holds true today.) Asian Americans also have far lower rates of STI screening, which contributes to the alarming observation that new infection rates for some STIs — such as HIV — are actually increasing among Asian Americans.
The Trump administration’s new Title X gag rule threatens the operation of reproductive healthcare clinics that serve low-income patients in communities of colour, including many Asian Americans. The simple fact is that abortion access is not just a constitutionally-protected right but a private medical decision that should be made between a patient and their doctor.
By instituting the new, unfair and partisan rule, the Trump Administration fundamentally interferes in the relationship between doctor and patient, and forces the anti-abortion lobby’s viewpoints onto all Americans. Trump’s Title X gag rule forces family planning programs into an impossible choice: take federal funding but compromise the quality of medical care available to low-income women, or maintain the integrity of medical services but without further federal support.
Ultimately, Trump’s partisan pandering to the Far Right does what the anti-abortion movement has always effectively sought to do: leave low-income women of colour hanging out to dry. While many states have promised they will try to replace the lost Title X funding to Planned Parenthood and other reproductive healthcare programs, this is no guarantee that most community-based reproductive healthcare clinics that service low-income communities can continue to exist without this federal funding.
It remains unclear how low-income women and/or women of colour will receive much-needed reproductive healthcare moving forward, or whether community-based reproductive healthcare clinics can survive this latest onslaught in the culture wars against reproductive rights. But one thing remains crystal clear: the Trump administration doesn’t give a fuck about us.