Tester to Health Secretary: Stop Blocking Women's Access to Health Care

Senator Pushes to Rescind Administration's "Gag Rule"

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester is standing up to Washington bureaucrats who are trying to block women’s access to health care.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar earlier this year announced major changes to the Title X Family Planning initiative, which will limit women and families’ access to basic preventive health care. Tester slammed the Administration’s proposal and called for the changes to be rescinded before Montana women experience the devastating consequences.

“The proposed rule would allow politicians with extreme ideological views to interfere with women’s personal health care decisions, undermine the provider-patient relationship, and leave women’s access to health care increasingly dependent on how much money they have and where they live,” Tester wrote in a letter to Azar. “The proposed rule would have devastating impacts on women across our country and we urge you to reverse course and revoke it.”

Under the “gag rule,” Title X clinics that provide abortion guidance or referrals to a patient would be blocked from receiving Title X funding, even though current law already ensures no federal funds can be used for such services.

“By blocking health care practitioners from honestly answering patients’ questions or providing comprehensive information, these restrictions interfere with this relationship of trust,” Tester added.

Title X clinics provide basic preventative care including well-woman visits, breast exams and HIV testing. Title X funding supports 25 health centers across Montana and provides care to almost 20,000 Montanans each year.

Every dollar invested in Title X saves over $7 in Medicaid-related costs, and four out ten women who receive care at a Title X funded health care center consider it to be their only source of health care.

Tester successfully fought to secure more than $280 million for Title X clinics in a bipartisan funding measure in June. That legislation has not received a vote on the Senate floor.

Tester last year helped defeat legislation that would have made it easier for states to refuse critical Title X funding to certain women’s health clinics.

Tester’s letter to Azar is available HERE.