Domestic Gag Rule Reduces Contraceptive Access for Over 275,000 Women Living in Ohio

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According to data released by Power to Decide, an estimated 275,310 Ohio women of reproductive age (13-44) in need of publicly funded contraception live in counties impacted by the Title X Family Planning Program “domestic gag rule.”

“Over 275,000 women in need in Ohio state could be impacted by the domestic gag rule,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, CEO of Power to Decide.

According to data released by Power to Decide, an estimated 275,310 Ohio women of reproductive age (13-44) in need of publicly funded contraception live in counties impacted by the Title X Family Planning Program “domestic gag rule.” In fact, 9% of Ohio’s 88 counties have lost some or all of their Title X resources.

The domestic gag rule prohibits health providers receiving Title X funds from providing comprehensive options counseling to patients, including providing information about abortion services and care. In addition, health centers are required to cease providing abortion care with non-Title X funds at sites that offer Title X supported services, such as contraceptive care, breast and cervical cancer screenings and STI testing. The rule requires that abortion services, no matter how they are funded, be performed at a separate physical site, which is impossible for many health centers. In the face of these challenges, family planning providers are doing their best to provide high-quality service to their patients and fill gaps left in the wake of the disruption caused by the rule.

“Over 275,000 women in need in Ohio state could be impacted by the domestic gag rule,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, CEO of Power to Decide. “This federal rule is yet another obstacle for women already facing barriers such as transportation, child care and taking unpaid time off from work in order to access basic health care.”

Data from Power to Decide show that 724,880 women living at or below 250% of the poverty level in Ohio live in contraceptive deserts, counties in which there is not reasonable access to a health center offering the full range of contraceptive methods. Nationally, more than 19 million U.S. women of low income live in contraceptive deserts.

In this challenging landscape, states like Ohio can take steps to partially alleviate the impact of damaging federal policies and to proactively expand access to contraception in various ways. Ohio has already expanded Medicaid to low-income adults, which helps decrease the percentage of uninsured women, and by extension, give them contraceptive coverage they need to live healthy lives. Other policies that would help include allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraception, requiring insurance to cover an extended supply of prescription contraceptives and enacting policies that protect insurance coverage of the full range of contraceptive methods.

More information about these policies can be found here. In addition, information about Ohio’s telehealth policies relevant to contraceptive access can be found here.

Power to Decide is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to ensure all people—no matter who they are, where they live or what their economic status might be—have the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. Please visit us at http://www.PowerToDecide.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Paloma Zuleta
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