Warner, Kaine call on Trump to protect access to family planning centers

donald trumpSens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with 32 of their Senate colleagues, sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to oppose any efforts to restrict federal funding from supporting Title X family planning centers.

“The economic security of women and their families is directly tied to a woman’s access to reproductive health care, including birth control and counseling,” wrote the Senators in the letter.“Despite numerous Court decisions supporting and reiterating the importance of reproductive health care for women and families, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly attempted to restrict federal funding from supporting Title X family planning centers in communities nationwide.”

Enacted with strong bipartisan support in 1970, the Title X family planning provider network is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. In fact, four out of ten women who received care at health centers funded by Title X consider it to be their only source of health care. Last year alone, Title X provided basic primary and preventive health care services such as pap tests, breast exams, and HIV testing to more than 4.1 million low-income women and men at more than 4,100 health centers, more than 130 of them in Virginia. In 2014, Title X-funded health centers served more than 66,000 Virginia residents, more than half of whom had incomes at or below the federal poverty level, meaning they earned $11,670 a year or less.

In December, the Obama Administration finalized a historic rule that protects the Title X program from partisan efforts to undermine women’s access to health care, by ensuring that federal funds are awarded based on a provider’s ability to serve patients—not based on any discriminatory purpose.

In today’s letter, the Senators called on President-elect Trump to commit to implement a final rule by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reinforces existing protections in the Title X program to ensure no qualified health care provider, like Planned Parenthood, is excluded from eligibility for federal funding. The final rule will help guarantee that women and LGBT people have access to the care entitled to them under federal law.

“President-elect Trump, women across the country have reason to be deeply concerned about the impact your administration could have on their health, their access to care, and therefore their economic security. We urge you to take clear position in favor of women’s health by supporting access to birth control and family planning services at Planned Parenthood and other Title X clinics nationwide,” wrote the Senators.

In additions to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the letter was signed by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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