April 28, 2022

ICYMI: Following Senator Warren’s Floor Speech, Republican Attempts to Undermine Title X Fail

“Republican politicians may think that they'll win by dividing Americans, but when it comes to the fight for reproductive rights, we will fight to ensure that every person gets the care they need.”

Video of Speech (Youtube)

Washington, D.C. - In case you missed it, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered a Senate floor speech yesterday to fight back against Republican attempts to reinstate the Trump-era Title X gag rule. Shortly after her speech, the vote failed to pass in the Senate. 

The full text of her remarks is available below.

Remarks by Senator Elizabeth Warren
April 27, 2022

Senator Elizabeth Warren: Mr. President:

For more than 50 years, the Title X Family Planning program has provided birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other essential health care services to millions of Americans. 

This program primarily serves patients who already face many barriers to accessing health care. Six in ten women who rely on the program for contraception say that a Title X provider is the only health care provider they see all year. 

And yet, Republican politicians like Senator Rubio are now using this crucial program – which has historically enjoyed bipartisan support – using it for political theater. This vote is only one part of a broad and sustained assault by Republican politicians on Americans’ health care, including patients’ rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Through repeated efforts to limit birth control access, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to restrict abortions, Republicans are chipping away at Americans’ health, safety, and economic independence.

In 2018, the Title X program served nearly 4 million people annually. But in 2019, the Trump Administration issued a radical gag rule that decimated the Title X provider network, causing more than 1,000 health care centers to leave the program and severely restricting access to basic primary and preventative health care services.

The COVID-19 pandemic only made access to these services even more difficult – disproportionately harming low-income communities and people of color. By 2020, with the combined effects of the Trump Administration’s awful policy and the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was only able to serve 1.5 million people – less than half of the people it had served in 2018. In Massachusetts, by January 2021, only one Title X grantee remained, and six states had no Title X providers at all – even though the need had grown. 

Fortunately, last October, the Biden-Harris Administration reversed Trump’s radical assault on the Title X program. That was an important victory, which prioritized patients’ needs, patients' health equity, and access to the broad range of services provided by Title X providers. 

But now, Senator Rubio is yet again trying to turn back the clock on health care and reproductive rights in what is just the latest attempt to deny people access to critical health care.  

If enacted, Senator Rubio’s resolution would harm millions of Americans, people who rely on Title X providers like Planned Parenthood, local health departments, and community health centers for family planning and sexual health services. 

Health care is a basic human right. Everyone deserves access to affordable family planning and sexual health care services, from birth control to STI treatments to pregnancy tests – no matter their zip code, no matter their income. 

People of color, people living in rural or medically underserved areas, and people with low incomes already face immense disparities in health care access and in health outcomes. And if we return to this radical Trump-era policy, and cut back on basic health care services, the effects will disproportionately hurt communities of color, uninsured people, and low-income people – exacerbating existing health disparities. 

This vote could not come at a worse time. The United States is facing surging rates of sexually transmitted infections. On top of that, Americans are facing rampant attacks on abortion and reproductive rights all across the country. Abortion has been virtually inaccessible to millions of Texans for several months now. And even though the majority of Americans agree that Roe v. Wade should remain law of the land, the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the decision in just two months. 

Meanwhile, Republican-controlled state legislatures, emboldened by our extremist Supreme Court, have introduced over 500 anti-abortion bills this year alone. And just this month, three more states enacted clearly unconstitutional attacks on abortion, counting on an extremist Supreme Court to back them up later on.

And that’s why now is the time to strengthen and expand access to the critical birth control and other essential health care services that the Title X program provides. That means not just defending Title X, but increasing funding for the program so that HHS can rebuild the Title X provider network and adequately fund the providers – many of whom have already been approved for grants but haven’t received a single dollar because there simply isn’t enough funding to meet the need. 

And let’s be clear: this is not just about health care. It’s yet another right-wing attempt to deny people – especially people of color, especially LGTBQ+ people, especially low-income people – the right to control their own futures. 

This is about economic justice. People who can't access basic reproductive and health care services cannot fully participate in our economy and they have fewer economic opportunities going forward. An unplanned pregnancy can derail an education or the early steps of a career. 

So today, I’m fighting to defend Title X, a program founded in 1970 with bipartisan support. I’m fighting to defend it from radical right-wing attacks. 

Republican politicians may think that they'll win by dividing Americans, but when it comes to the fight for reproductive rights, we will fight to ensure that every person gets the care they need.

Thank you, Mr. President, I yield the floor.