On Tuesday, June 12, Sup. Katy Tang organized a conference at City Hall urging San Franciscans to take action against a Trump administration rule that would take away Title X government funding from clinics.
Armed with the CEO of the Northern California Planned Parenthood, Gilda Gonzales, Tang explained how this rule, announced June 2, could harm clients of local health centers.
Title X, enacted in 1970, allows the government to fund reproductive services such as contraceptives, STD tests, and cancer screenings for people who may not be able to afford it.
However, the Trump administration decided to stop funding clinics that receive Title X if abortion services or abortion counseling are offered. This means even if clinics don’t provide abortions themselves, merely suggesting another facility for patients to go to could risk federal funding cuts.
Under this rule, Planned Parenthood, a health center known to provide abortions among other vital health care, can lose its Title X funding. However, Tang said if enough of the public comment negatively on the rule, it can be overturned.
Supervisors Hillary Ronen, London Breed, Malia Cohen, Catherine Stefani and Sandra Lee Fewer stood in solidarity with Tang and spoke about the need to fight for basic access to reproductive information.
“Planned Parenthood provides critical services to women not only in our city but across the country, and Trump’s proposal to defund them is simply shameful,” Fewer stated to SF Weekly in an email.
According to the Planned Parenthood Northern California Annual Report for 2016 – 2017, patients visited the Northern California facilities a total of 188,842 times. 52 percent of patient visits asked for STD testing, 33 percent involved contraceptives, and 2 percent related to abortion services.
Gonzales seems confident however that Planned Parenthood Northern California facilities can continue to serve the community in spite of policies like this one.
“We are not deterred by any threats that continue to come our way. Sadly, we are no stranger to threats to our funding, services, and safety,” she says.
For example, PPNorCal announced the construction of a new flagship location on 1522 Bush St. Since this particular project is completely funded by donations, an administration threat to lose funds means nothing.
Sup. Tang noted that the city is likely to backfill lack of federal funding in case this occurs, but residents shouldn’t rely on San Francisco to pick up slack forever.
“We have a lot of different priorities and needs [in S.F.], especially with public health,” Tang said. “We’ll never know if we have enough funding for it at a local level, so that’s why the federal funding is so critical.”
Sup. Asha Safai attended the conference too, but did not speak.
In the midst of a fierce political battle for the mayor’s seat at City Hall, the unification reaches beyond moderate/progressive lines for a comforting collective statement.
“It’s important for the women on the Board of Supervisors to be unified and highlight decisions being made at the federal level that will impact women’s rights everywhere,” Tang tells SF Weekly. “While standing together in solidarity, I hope this will ignite others to speak up against the Trump Administration’s terrible policies that will set women generations back.”
The Board of Supervisors acknowledge the possible implications for the 18 Planned Parenthoods in Northern California alone. Government funded health centers can attract poorer and uninsured individuals because of affordable contraceptives. Opposers of Title X’s revision warn that poorer families and people of color will be affected most by cuts.
But true to form, San Francisco is not going down without a fight.
“This resolution reaffirms San Francisco as a city that takes a strong stand on women’s rights and women’s health, in the face of threats from President Trump and his administration,” Fewer says.
“You and each and every person– whether you’re a woman or not, we’d love for you to weigh in,” Tang said. “First and foremost we want public comment.” The comment period ends July 31, and the supervisors encourage each and every one of us to stand up for reproductive rights.