Proposed Change To Title X Would ‘Put Politics In The Exam Room’ Says Hickenlooper

Originally published on July 31, 2018 5:20 pm

Gov. John Hickenlooper wants the federal government to withdraw a proposed rule that restricts conversations health care professionals can have with their patients.

On July 30 Hickenlooper sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking that it remove the "Compliance With Statutory Program Integrity Requirements" rule.

"Every woman in Colorado deserves to speak openly with their doctor and make the health care decisions that are best for them," wrote Hickenlooper. "This rule puts politicians in the exam room, limiting the information a doctor can provide to his or her patients."

The rule, published on June 1, would not allow a health care professional to refer a pregnant woman to an abortion provider, even if she asks. They could counsel women on abortions and provide a list of providers, but only if the woman "clearly states" she already intends to have an abortion.

It also would lift existing requirements regarding birth control and counseling. Clinics receiving Title X funding would no longer have to offer a full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods or inform women that birth control like long-acting reversible contraceptives are a medically approved option for preventing pregnancy.

Clinics that provide counseling on only certain types of family planning, such as abstinence-only or so-called "fertility awareness based methods," could still receive federal funding.

The rule would affect 75 clinics in Colorado that provide basic health care services to more than 40,000 women and men each year

According to the letter, private foundations and the state's general fund supplement Title X funding and provide more than 50,000 Colorado women with long-acting reversible contraception since 2009 . Since then, the state's teen pregnancy rate has dropped by more than half and the abortion rate has dropped by more than 60 percent. In 2016 Colorado's teenage birth rate hit an all-time low.

"These reductions in unintended pregnancy are helping Colorado women achieve financial security for themselves and their families," wrote Hickenlooper, "saving the state money that would have been spent on Medicaid or other public assistance."

The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rule was July 31.

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