On Friday, the Trump administration announced final changes to Title X family planning program, the federal grant program designed to provide comprehensive family planning services to low-income Americans. The new rule will prohibit health care providers who receive Title X funding from offering patients abortion counseling or referrals.

The Trump administration first proposed changes to Title X last year, and the revisions were met with strong support from conservatives. The changes will go into effect 60 days after being formally published to the Federal Register.  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement shortly after the proposed changes to Title X were announced. Whitmer criticized the Trump administration for limiting access to a variety of a family planning services.

“Title X ensures that every person has access to birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential health care services — no matter where they live and how much money they have,” Whitmer wrote. “The Trump administration’s actions undermine this bipartisan supported federal-state partnership that has improved the health of women and families for decades.”

Whitmer asserted the new changes would reduce the amount of federally funded clinics, forcing individuals to travel further for these health services or go without. She asserted her commitment to protecting health care services and said she will work to prevent the proposed changes.

“It interferes in the doctor-patient relationship,” Whitmer wrote. “When people can’t see their provider of choice, they delay or simply go without care. Along with other newly elected governors, I will explore all options to block these changes. I remain committed to the women and men of Michigan who rely on Title X for access to basic health care services.”

Dylan Berger, president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans and LSA sophomore, said in an email interview that while the members of their organization have a “wealth of opinions” about abortion, they hope that Republicans and Democrats in Washington can find middle ground in regard to changes proposed for Title X.

“We hope Washington is able to come together and reject extremism on both sides of this issue,” Berger wrote. “It’s key to both protect the sacred value of life and guarantee the personal liberty of all our citizens.”

Katie Kelly, communications director for the University’s chapter of College Democrats, said in an email interview it was disheartening to see the changes the Trump administration has made to Title X. In most cases, abortion services are already excluded from federal funding prior to the proposed changes.

Kelly sees the new rule as limiting access to healthcare for millions of individuals who rely on more affordable clinics for a variety of reasons.

“This is a blatant attack against women and all individuals who take advantage of the services offered by clinics such as Planned Parenthood,” Kelly wrote. “It has been very clear for a long time that money from Title X cannot be used for abortion services, so this proposal will hurt the health of those who use these clinics for procedures such as cancer screening, general checkups, or family planning.”

Opponents of the changes to Title X are calling the revisions a “gag rule,” which will prevent providers from discussing abortion options with women or risk losing their federal funding. Kelly said the changes to Title X demonstrate a continued attack against women by the Trump administration.

“By making family planning services like Planned Parenthood choose between Title X funding and providing comprehensive family planning services, President Trump has essentially implemented a domestic gag rule,” Kelly wrote. “It is unconscionable that our President is attacking, yet again, the health and bodily autonomy of women. These changes will hinder the ability of many low income individuals from receiving quality medical care.”

Public Health junior Trisha Gupte criticized the changes to Title X and said the new rules severely limit women’s choices for their health. According to Gupte, by preventing providers from even discussing the full range of healthcare options, the Trump administration is effectively denying individuals the right to make choices for themselves.

“You should have the option to have access to these kinds of services,” Gupte said. “It’s important to have choices. It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to make choices that they want to, especially when it comes to reproductive justice.”

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