Dwight Evans for The Philadelphia Tribune: Communities of color most at risk from attacks on affordable reproductive health care

Originally published by The Philadelphia Tribune

We live in a country where access to health care is not equal. Our ability to receive quality health care is often determined by income, ZIP code and race. We live in a time when we are seeing mounting attacks on communities who already face the highest barriers to accessing affordable health care.

In June, I voted proudly to pass protections for Title X, the national family planning program, from being dismantled by the Trump-Pence administration. Despite people needing more access to birth control and reproductive health care, the Trump-Pence administration has forced a dangerous and unethical rule into effect which censors health-care providers and jeopardizes reproductive health care for millions nationwide.

Title X is a government program to ensure that every person, regardless of income or insurance status, can receive basic, often life-saving health care like cancer screenings, STD screenings and treatment, annual exams and birth control.

The Trump-Pence gag rule bans doctors in the Title X program from telling patients how they can safely and legally access abortion. It would make it impossible for patients in the program to get care at places like Planned Parenthood, and prevents patients from knowing all their options and getting the best care possible.

Two-thirds of the 4 million served by Title X live under the federal poverty level, and nearly half lack insurance. Due to systemic racial inequities, 21 percent identify as Black or African American, and 32 percent identify as Hispanic or Latinx. In Pennsylvania, nearly 170,000 people rely on Title X funding.

This includes a patient like Tamika, from Cobbs Creek, who was diagnosed with Lupus at age 22.

She went to Planned Parenthood, where she learned the birth control she was taking was extremely dangerous for people with Lupus. Through Title X and the individualized care and information she was able to receive at Planned Parenthood, Tamika was able to switch her birth control, make better health decisions for herself, and prevent unwanted pregnancy, especially since the slew of medicines she had to take for Lupus cause very high-risk pregnancies.

The gag rule is just one of the many recent attacks by the Trump-Pence administration against reproductive health care, poor people, women and communities of color. It is part of a calculated conservative agenda to roll back reproductive rights, access to birth control, abortion rights and our agency over our bodies and futures — the very fabric of our communities.

Protecting access to health care for all must be integral in our fight to a brighter future. Congress controls the Title X program. My vote was to better fund this safety net program and enshrine into law protections for the program as it has been previously run for nearly 50 years. I implore my colleagues in the Senate to vote to do the same, as we know that the longer the gag rule is in effect, the longer people go without necessary care.

Women — especially Black women — are marching, engaging with their elected officials to resist regressive legislation, running for office, and getting elected. They will not stand for our communities being harmed by rollbacks to health-care access.

I stand with them and I stand with those most impacted by the Trump-Pence attacks on health care. I stand with community health centers, like Planned Parenthood, as they continue doing everything they can to remain in communities, providing care to all.

Their doors remain open, and our fight will not cease. No matter where we live, how much money we make, what our backgrounds are, or if we have health insurance, we all deserve access to health care.