Maryland became the first state to formally opt out of Title X federal funding while passing legislation in April to guarantee all state-wide family planning centers receive the same amount of funding as the previous fiscal year.
This choice was prompted by the presidential administration’s latest family planning rule, dubbed the gag rule, which forces all reproductive service organizations that receive federal funding to separate themselves from clinics that either recommend or provide abortions. This issue came into light due to recent abortion laws passed in other states.
“People think Planned Parenthood is all about getting rid of an unborn child but that’s not the only thing. It provides options, it provides a safe place. It gives [people] educational services so that they learn about how to prevent STDs as well as pregnancy,” social studies teacher Kimberly Moore said. “Also, it makes the female feel like they have a choice and a say in what they’re doing.”
Title X was originally enacted under President Nixon as part of the Public Health Service Act. It is the first and only federal grant dedicated to providing accessible reproductive health care and contraceptive services. According to Planned Parenthood, over four million Americans rely on funding from Title X to have affordable birth control and other family-related services.
“It’s important because more people can practice safe sex and learn about that and it can help families who are not able to financially sustain a kid find different ways to help that kid without ruining the kids in their life,” sophomore Ashley Kharbanda said.
Though the gag rule has been fiercely attacked and is likely to go to the Supreme Court, Maryland chose to withdraw from Title X funding as a precaution, if the rule does pass. If the rule is struck down as unconstitutional, Maryland will continue to accept funds from the national government.
“The fact that we’re going back in time and trying to restrict women’s rights is just really cowardly and terrible because we’ve been advancing as women and we’ve been doing a lot to get our voice out there, but now it’s just being restricted again,” sophomore Lahiruni Dias Amarawardena said.
This gag rule and other recent abortion laws passed in different states have been created in spite of judicial precedent set by Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut, both giving women the right to privacy, which includes abortions and birth control.
“I’m personally in fear of Roe v. Wade getting completely eradicated because women shouldn’t have to go through the pain of having a kid that they weren’t prepared to have,” Kharbanda said.
Despite growing fear over the issue of reproductive rights and services, Dias Amarawardena, Kharbanda, and Moore all believe Maryland made the right choice in protecting reproductive clinics and therefore protecting reproductive rights as a whole.
“I’m actually pretty proud of Maryland for doing that. I think the best choice is right in the word, the act of choice. I’m giving the people the freedom to be able to say that this is what I want to do and providing that option.” Moore said. “Any restrictions you put on that, whether it’s funding or it’s rules about someone’s body and what they’re going to do to it, it’s wrong in all ways.”