As the largest and most diverse generation this country has ever seen, Millennials, and those who follow us, will be hit hardest by the removal of this Title X guidance. As a first-generation Ethiopian-American, I grew up hearing countless personal stories about gender inequality—about women being blocked from pursuing education or even being denied access to basic health care services. Many women, like my mother and aunt, were restricted from accessing these important systems and achieving mobility and empowerment because of unstable institutions and stifling bureaucracy. And when a woman’s ability to make decisions around her sexual and reproductive health is compromised by external ideological factors, her life choices are shifted outside of her control.
Due to my ethnic and national background, it was difficult to gain honest and complete information about reproductive health and rights when I was younger. While in college, I had no idea where I could go or who I could talk to about my reproductive health, and didn’t even have health insurance to assist me. Thankfully, one day a friend directed me to Planned Parenthood, a Title X healthcare provider, where I finally was able to have my needs met and questions answered, without fear and at little cost.
I was lucky. But who will speak out for the young women of my generation in the United States, who are being denied the same access to care and are facing relentless attacks to their reproductive rights and freedom?
One threat young women in the U.S. are facing is an attack on reliable and safe family planning methods through to the Trump-Pence administration’s domestic gag rule on Title X. Title X is the only federal program that provides family planning services—like birth control, breast cancer screenings, and STI testing—to low-income women. The program serves more than 4 million people per year, most of them low-income women, young women, and women of color.
This domestic gag rule would deny these women access to important family planning services and destroy the invaluable work Title X providers have done to improve women’s health. It would do this by prohibiting Title X providers from discussing abortion as an option for pregnant women or providing women with abortion referrals. It would also require a financial and physical separation of Title X programs and abortion services, placing a huge financial burden on Title X healthcare providers. The attack on Title X continues to be part of the Trump-Pence administration’s attempts to restrict and chip away at access to women’s healthcare.
I am only one story but there are so many more women who have benefitted from and need Title X services to live healthy lives. Their stories are what drive me in my role as an advocate for women’s health across the world and in the U.S. Now as a masters student studying International Development at George Washington University, I work to ensure young women across the world may grow up with access to basic education, economic opportunities and, vitally, healthcare.
Join me in speaking out against this disastrous Title X domestic gag rule! Share your story through public comments here by Tuesday, July 31 and tell the administration what you really think about their gag rule. And make sure to check out this Title X toolkit for more facts about Title X, actions you can take, and ways to stay involved in the fight.
Now more than ever, we can’t—and we won’t—be deceived by the Trump-Pence administration’s attempts to take away our healthcare. It must be made clear that when women claim their reproductive freedoms and are given equal resources and support, everyone wins.