July 21, 2022

Hirono Pushes to Strengthen Federal Family Planning Services in Senate Floor Speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) urged the Senate to advance legislation to provide additional, guaranteed funding for the Title X Family Planning Program in a speech on the Senate floor. The Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, legislation she introduced with colleagues earlier this week, would protect access to critical reproductive health care services—like birth control, cancer screenings and more—by providing a consistent and strong source of funding for the Title X Family Planning Program. Senator Hirono’s speech was delivered immediately before Senate Republicans blocked the legislation from moving forward.

In 2019, the Trump Administration implemented a dangerous gag rule prohibiting providers who receive Title X funds from informing patients about the full range of reproductive health care options available to them, including abortions. This resulted in all Hawaii clinics rejecting Title X funding and thousands of women in Hawaii losing access to critical family planning services. While the Biden Administration reversed that rule, this legislation would protect access to reproductive care by statutorily requiring providers to inform patients of all of their options, including abortion and abortion services.

As the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court and MAGA Republicans work to eliminate reproductive freedoms, the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act would help ensure everyone can continue to access the family planning services they need.

“As the right-wing Supreme Court and MAGA Republicans work to eliminate reproductive freedom, it’s critical we protect and strengthen Title X,” said Senator Hirono in her remarks. “That’s exactly what the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act will do. This bill would nearly double funding for Title X family planning services by providing $500 million in mandatory funding for Title X for each of the next 10 years. It will also ban Title X providers from discriminating against patients and require pregnancy counseling services receiving Title X funds to provide patients with all of the information about their options. Republicans have made clear that they will do anything to get rid of our reproductive freedoms—so we must pass this bill to make sure this program isn’t at the whim of those trying to strip us of our healthcare.”  

In her remarks, Senator Hirono also highlighted the disastrous impacts of the Title X gag rule implemented by the Trump Administration, which banned Title X providers from sharing information with patients about how they could access abortion services.

“This gag rule wreaked havoc across the country,” Senator Hirono continued. “It forced providers to decide whether they wanted to receive Title X funding knowing that health care providers wouldn’t be able to provide women with accurate and comprehensive information or say no to this critical family planning funding that supports women across the country through clinics like Planned Parenthood and other non-profits.  In my home state of Hawaii, the entire network of Title X clinics said no to this dangerous rule and rejected the funding, forcing our state to foot the bill. But ultimately, this resulted in a loss of services to thousands of women. Overall, Trump’s rule slashed Title X’s patient capacity in half.”

Specifically, The Expanding Access to Family Planning Act would:

  • Provide $500 million in mandatory funding for Title X services for each of the next 10 fiscal years. This is well above the $286 million the program received in FY2022. 
  • Deliver $50 million in mandatory funding for clinic construction, renovation, and related infrastructure enhancements for each of the next 10 fiscal years.
  • Reinstate regulations prohibiting discrimination of providers who deliver Title X services.
  • Require that pregnancy counseling include information about prenatal care and delivery, infant care, foster care, adoption, and pregnancy termination, unless a patient does not have any interest in receiving information about an option. 

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care for all. This week, she introduced the Right to Contraception Act. This legislation, backed by over half of the Senate Democratic caucus, would codify the fundamental and constitutional right to contraception. Senator Hirono also introduced the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022, which clarifies that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel for abortion services, and would empower impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.

In June, Senator Hirono led several initiatives relating to abortion care and reproductive health. She led her colleagues in urging the Department of Defense to take immediate steps to support and protect female servicemembers seeking abortion services, and introduced the Affordability is Access Act (AAA) to help ensure access to over-the-counter birth control options. Senator Hirono also introduced the My Body, My Data Act, legislation to protect personal reproductive health data by minimizing the information collected and retained, and preventing that information from being disclosed or misused; the bill would protect reproductive health data from sources like fertility tracking apps.

The full text of Senator Hirono’s remarks is below and video is available here.

M. President, I rise today in support of the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, which will help ensure millions of Americans can continue receiving family planning services through the Title X program.

For more than forty years, Title X has helped ensure hundreds of thousands of women regardless of income, background, insurance status, or hometown—have access to basic reproductive health care, including wellness exams, cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

While this program—which was created with bipartisan support—has been around for decades, we’ve seen what happens when MAGA Republicans are in control. President Trump slashed funding for Title X and imposed a dangerous domestic gag rule that banned doctors from telling people how they could access abortion services.

This gag rule wreaked havoc across the country. It forced providers to decide whether they wanted to receive Title X funding, knowing that health care providers wouldn’t be able to provide women with accurate and comprehensive information, or say no to this critical family planning funding that supports women across the country through clinics like Planned Parenthood and other non-profits.  

In my home state of Hawaii, the entire network of Title X clinics said no to this dangerous rule and rejected the funding, forcing our state to foot the bill. But ultimately, the gag rule resulted in a loss of services to thousands of women. Across the country, Trump’s rule slashed Title X’s patient capacity in half—jeopardizing family planning and contraceptive care for 1.6 million patients nationwide.

While President Biden reversed this rule, we can’t take anything for granted. As the right-wing Supreme Court and MAGA Republicans work to eliminate reproductive freedom, it’s critical we protect and strengthen Title X. That’s exactly what the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act will do.

This bill would nearly double funding for Title X family planning services by providing $500 million in mandatory funding for Title X for each of the next 10 years. It will also ban Title X providers from discriminating against patients and require pregnancy counseling services receiving Title X funds to provide patients with ALL of the information about their options.

Republicans have made clear that they will do anything to get rid of our reproductive freedoms—so we must pass this bill to make sure this program isn’t at the whim of those trying to strip us of our healthcare.  

While Republicans continue to attack our fundamental rights, Democrats are doing everything we can to protect them. That’s why, in addition to this important bill, earlier this week, I introduced legislation to codify the right to contraception.

This is about who gets to make decisions about our bodies, women, or a bunch of right-wing politicians. I believe—and the American people overwhelming agree—individuals, not politicians, should be making these deeply personal decisions. Our Right to Contraception Act and the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act will help ensure they can.

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