Gag rule may have a negative impact

I am writing this letter to show my strong opposition to the gag rule that has been released, and if implemented, would negatively affect health care for millions of Americans. The gag rule would force health care professionals to withhold specific information from their patients. As a family nurse practitioner, I find this rule to be very disturbing.

How can we restrict what doctors and nurses tell their patients? This violates the basic premise of the doctor-patient relationship. Restricting what doctors and nurses can tell their patients will negatively impact the delivery of health care. It will force us to keep vital information about available services and procedures from our patients and prevent them from making fully informed decisions.

Title X facilities were created to provide basic reproductive health care to everyone regardless of their income or access to health insurance.

This health care includes birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment and exams. Title X facilities provide this health care to about 4 million people annually, half of which have no access to health insurance.

About two-thirds of the people who receive their health care at Title X facilities live below the federal poverty line. This is especially important for West Virginians because 18 percent of our population lives in poverty and around 144,000 of the state’s residents lack health insurance.

This gag rule states that Title X organizations will be defunded if health care providers do not abide by the requirement to withhold information. This is a direct attack on health care facilities that serve our population who need access to reproductive health care the most. I ask that Sen. Joe Manchin and the rest of West Virginia’s delegation to Washington, D.C. do what they can to ensure that this “gag rule” is not implemented.

Emily Starks

Barbour County

Democratic Party