Title X, a crucial part of our health care system, is under attack. If successful, the Trump-Pence administration will undermine health care for millions of Americans, undermining our economy in the process. Maine’s congressional delegation must stand up for patients and the economy and oppose the administration’s efforts.

The proposed “gag rule” would ban Title X health-care providers from giving patients full and accurate information about their health care options, specifically information on where and how to access safe and legal abortion. It also imposes new restrictions designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health-care providers and it eliminates the requirement that Title X health centers provide a full range of effective contraception methods.

Since the plan was announced, medical experts and health care organizations have decried the proposal as one that would harm patients’ health. At the Maine Center for Economic Policy, we share those concerns. But we also must raise red flags about the effect the proposed “gag rule” would have on the economic security of women and families.

Economic analysis proves that access to quality health care is good for the economy. Women live that reality every day. I know from experience.

My husband and our two children and I moved into our first home a month ago. Despite some small hiccups like a defective shower head soaking the ceiling and walls (it’s being replaced), it has been great.

This move is a culmination of years of planning. That includes saving for building a home, of course, but also planning when we would start our family and how to space our children.


Those choices were possible because of access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including birth control, cancer screenings and regular checkups. If I had ever needed or wanted an abortion, I would have had access to providers who would either perform it for me or tell me how I could get one.

Access to comprehensive care enabled us to be more financially secure – and ensured I was healthy – before having children. That’s important because starting a family can have dramatic implications for women’s lives.

Having a child affects a woman’s future earning potential, and even her ability to remain in the workforce. An unplanned pregnancy can set back or even derail a woman’s career plans. Only half of teen mothers obtain a high school diploma or equivalent by age 22, compared to 90 percent of young women who don’t give birth in high school.

Access to birth control improves labor-force participation among women. It also enables parents – particularly women – to take better care of their families, pursue their education and maintain employment. Historically, women with access to birth control have earned 8 percent more per year than their peers without access.

When women can choose whether or when to start their families, they are in control of their economic futures. Federal Title X funds allow 4 million low-income people, especially women, to access doctors, nurses and other providers who can provide them with the best possible care.

Here in Maine, more than 22,000 people of all races and backgrounds depend on Title X for vital sexual and reproductive health care.


In addition to allowing people more control over their families and reproductive health, and the economic boost that creates, Title X also produces large-scale savings for federal and state governments. Every dollar invested in public family planning saves $7 in further public expenditures. Savings are achieved primarily through prevention of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and chronic illness.

In 2014, Title X health centers prevented nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies, as well as preterm or low-birth-weight births, sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer cases. This resulted in annual net savings to the federal and state governments of $7 billion, including $25 million in savings to the state of Maine.

These successes – for individuals, the economy and public dollars – are now jeopardized by the Trump-Pence administration’s proposed gag rule. Maine’s members of Congress must weigh the broad effects such changes would produce and oppose the gag rule.


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