As grandmothers, we are very concerned about the federal government’s proposed changes to the Title X funding, which would deprive many low-income women of scientifically based reproductive health care.

We are a group of women who came of age when access to birth control, reproductive healthcare, and abortion was either severely restricted or not available in the United States. We witnessed desperate unwed mothers forced to be sent away by their parents to hide their pregnancies, and then give up their babies, or seek abortions from untrained practitioners. One of our members was in medical school in the 1960s, and she remembers wards filled with women suffering varying degrees of infection and hemorrhage from illegal abortions. Many died. Many survivors were left sterile and traumatized.

None of us want to go back to those days.

The proposed changes would make it impossible for family planning providers to give their clients, largely poor uninsured women, the full range of information about contraception and about their options when they are pregnant. That is why opponents are calling it the “domestic gag rule,” because it would limit sex education to “sexual risk avoidance,” or abstinence. Clinics that receive Title X funding would not be allowed to do abortions, to mention abortion, or to refer a patient elsewhere for abortion. The intent, clearly, is to decrease access to safe and legal abortion.

The proposed changes for Title X funding would slide us backwards by decreasing funding to legitimate family planning organizations whose care is based on good science while increasing funding to those, such as Crisis Pregnancy Centers, that base their work on religious beliefs rather than providing accurate information.

As grandmothers, we speak from long experience and seek to preserve for women a legacy of choice, access, and the right to make decisions about one’s own healthcare.

Wendy Ross

Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights (GRR)

Wiscasset

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