To Protect Access to Abortion at Nation's Largest Public Hospital System, Mayor de Blasio and NYC Health + Hospitals Reject Federal Funding Tied to New "Gag Rule"
Under new federal rule, providers accepting Title X funds would be banned from sharing information about full range of reproductive health services, including abortion
Jun 28, 2019
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio, and President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Dr. Mitchell Katz today announced the City’s public health system will cease participating in the federal Title X program for as long as the “gag rule” is in effect. The rule prevents medical providers from sharing information and counseling about abortion to their patients. In a directive to all NYC Health + Hospitals personnel, Dr. Katz today instructed doctors and nurses to support patients on whatever pathway they choose, including providing referrals to abortion and reproductive health services.
“The doctors and nurses at the heart of New York City’s public hospital system took an oath to protect and serve patients, and we will do whatever’s necessary to ensure they are able to provide the best medical treatment,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Our decision to reject Title X funds sends a clear message – we will not stand by while the Trump Administration tries to censor our providers and prevent them from giving patients information about abortions.”
“The Title X gag rule is yet another cruel attempt by federal government leaders to control reproductive rights,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “New York City will not allow politicians with their regressive rulings to dictate what people can and cannot do with their bodies. We will protect New Yorkers access to reproductive health care – no matter what happens in Washington.”
In February 2019, the Trump Administration issued the federal “gag rule,” which bars health care providers who receive federal Title X funding from referring or counseling patients about their abortion options. A federal lawsuit – for which New York City filed an amicus brief – had been blocking the gag rule from taking effect. Last week, the Federal Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit vacated this injunction, allowing the gag rule to take effect immediately across the country. This would force doctors and medical providers who receive these federal funds for sexual and reproductive health to withhold information about safe, legal abortions from their patients.
Rather than censor providers, NYC Health + Hospitals will reject $1.3 million in federal funding from the Title X program — which funds a range of family planning and related preventive health services — until the gag rule is lifted. The City will cover the lost Title X funds, and NYC Health + Hospitals will direct doctors and nurses to continue providing referrals to abortion and reproductive health services. NYC Health + Hospitals remains committed to providing patients comprehensive reproductive health options and services the system has always offered, without interruption.
“This rule is unconscionable and an affront to the professional ethics of all doctors,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “Physicians must have the freedom to provide accurate and unbiased medical information to their patients, and this rule runs counter to that basic fact. In refusing Title X funds, NYC Health + Hospitals reaffirms its commitment to protecting reproductive care rights – our doctors will not be silenced, and our patients will continue to receive the best care possible.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals delivers essential services to New Yorkers, and we will not let the federal government tell us how to limit the health care options for our patients,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We are prepared to find other ways to compensate for the loss of funding and ensure that we remain true to our mission to care for all, without exception, and regardless of income, immigration or insurance status.”
“We object to the dangerous policies that are restricting access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care across the country and will not allow the censoring of our doctors and nurses,” said Machelle Allen, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “Our doors will remain open to all and we will continue to support our patients on whatever path they choose.”
NYC Health + Hospitals facilities offer comprehensive and confidential care for patients that includes contraceptive counseling, management of pregnancy loss, and elective medical pregnancy termination services and surgical termination services up to 24 weeks (2nd trimester). The system is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment.
“Trump’s outrageous restriction on Title X funding for doctors who provide or refer abortion services is state-sponsored discrimination and a disturbing threat to reproductive healthcare as we know it. In these profoundly troubling times, New Yorkers can rest assured that their elected officials in New York City and in Albany will protect their access to comprehensive reproductive health care, regardless of what happens in Washington D.C. I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Palacio, and President Katz for their ongoing advocacy on behalf of all New Yorkers,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.
“I commend the Mayor and his administration for rejecting the attack by our Federal government on women. Information from healthcare providers is key to making personal healthcare decisions. We must ensure that all patients have the unrestricted protection of an uninhibited consultation with a competent and compassionate health care providers in our City Health + Hospitals facilities. Matters reproductive health should stay between a woman and her doctor,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“The federal government’s Title X gag rule is emblematic of this White House’s extremist crusade against the reproductive rights of women,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “NYC Health + Hospitals serves as a vital public health resource for millions of New York women and cannot limit those resources based on an agenda intended to strip women of their right to choose. By refusing Title X funding—and covering the loss in funding—New York City is expanding our commitment to reproductive justice. I am proud to support Mayor de Blasio and NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Executive Office Dr. Mitchell Katz on this effort.”
“We will not let the backward and outdated policies of the Trump Administration deter New York City from being a national stalwart in upholding the fundamental right of a woman to choose her reproductive health care,” said City Council Health Chair Mark Levine. “No amount of Title X federal funding is worth having to compromise the health and safety of women who are simply seeking basic medical information on legal medical procedures from health care professionals. Trump’s blatant attempt at extorting our city into compliance of his draconian “gag rule” has failed and NYC Health + Hospitals will not let their doctors be silenced.”
“As the Trump-Pence administration continues to undermine the Title X national family planning program as part of its larger anti-abortion agenda, New York City is once again standing strong for abortion access,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. “NYC Health + Hospitals has a long and proud history of providing comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion, and we applaud H+H for its commitment to counseling patients without bias and offering this crucial care.”
Any New Yorker wishing to make an appointment at an NYC Health + Hospitals location can call.