Doctors say changes to family planning program is 'government interference' in doctor, patient relationship

Doctors say changes to family planning program is 'government interference' in doctor, patient relationship
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration's proposed changes to a federal family planning program is "government interference" in the patient-physician relationship, according to the leading association representing doctors in the U.S. 

Family planning clinics that refer patients for abortions or share locations or finances with abortion providers will be ineligible for funding through the Title X family planning grant program under proposed regulations released by the administration on Tuesday. 

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Such restrictions would force doctors to withhold information from their patients, argues the American Medical Association (AMA). 

“The AMA objects strongly to the administration’s plan to withhold federal family planning funding from Planned Parenthood and other entities. We are particularly alarmed about government interference with the patient-physician relationship in the exam room," said AMA President David Barbe. 

The regulations would also remove a requirement that patients are informed about options that include adoption and abortion.

Such counseling would be optional for Title X providers, but not required under the proposed regulations. 

This means some patients could be getting incomplete information when they seek family planning services from Title X clinics, Barbe argued. 

“High-quality medical care relies on honest, unfiltered conversations between patients and their physicians. Gag orders that restrict the ability of physicians to explain all options to their patients and refer them—whatever their health care needs—compromise this relationship and force physicians and nurses to withhold information that their patients need to make decisions about their care," Barbe said.  

Conservatives and anti-abortion groups have lobbied the administration to make the changes as a way to reduce federal funding going to Planned Parenthood.