HHS Releases Title X Final Rule
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued the final rule to revise the regulations governing the Title X family planning program, which focuses on serving low-income Americans. The final rule amends the Title X regulation.
Key elements of the final rule include:
- Requiring clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning.
- Prohibiting referral for abortion as a method of family planning. The final rule does not bar nondirective counseling on abortion but eliminates the requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral. According to the final rule this requirement protects Title X healthcare providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral.
- Protecting women and children who have experienced child abuse, child molestation, incest, sexual abuse, rape, intimate partner violence, and trafficking by:
- Requiring that Title X clinics provide annual training for staff and have a site-specific protocol in place to protect victims/survivors of sexual assault.
- Requiring compliance with State and local laws on reporting or notification of these crimes.
- Requiring counseling for minors on how to resist attempts to coerce them into sexual activities.
- Requiring clinics to encourage meaningful parent/child communication – and, as required by federal law, to encourage family participation, especially in a minor’s decision to seek family planning services – and to provide practical ways to begin (and maintain) such communications.
- Maintaining the confidential relationship between patients and medical professionals within the statutory requirements.
- Clarifying that individuals may be considered for Title X services if they are unable to obtain employer-sponsored insurance coverage for certain contraceptive services due to their employer’s religious beliefs or moral convictions and the limitations of their own financial resources.
- Providing high quality comprehensive family planning services to those currently unserved or underserved, while ensuring the integrity of the Title X program, consistent with statutory requirements.
Included with today’s notice is a link to the final rule as well as an example policy addressing the requirement that Title X clinics provide annual training for staff and have a site-specific protocol in place to protect victims/survivors of sexual assault.
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