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‘An issue for all people’: Shepherdstown resident recalls personal experiences with Title X

By Staff | Aug 23, 2019


SHEPHERDSTOWN — Marguerite Rockwell, of Shepherdstown, remembers when she first benefited from Title X federal funding.

While some Americans, including President Trump, have been concerned that the funds have inadvertently helped health care organizations provide and promote abortions, Rockwell said Title X only served her as a way to get healthcare when she had no health insurance.

“When I was younger, I had screenings, well-woman exams and other services for women’s health. I’ve had testings for STIs and cancer screenings,” Rockwell said. “I have also benefited from the family planning — I have three children, and that helped me keep that goal.

“I always pictured having three kids when I was a little kid,” Rockwell said. “Financially, it gets more expensive, the more kids you have.”

Rockwell, who has never had an abortion, went to Shenandoah Valley Medical System, Inc., for their Title X-funded healthcare services.

“Back then, I was very low income. I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so that’s how it benefited me the most,” Rockwell said. “My first pregnancy was when I was 20, so that was when I first went in for screenings and accessed the women’s programs. I continued to use Title X’s funding for the next couple of decades or so, for the birth control part.”

While Rockwell is now familiar with Title X’s benefits, she didn’t personally know much about it until her first pregnancy.

“I had heard about the birth control, and that’s it – I didn’t know about any of the other services,” Rockwell said. “I don’t think everybody realizes everything Title X does. It can’t be used to fund abortions. On the news, social media, it’s all being added to the conversation, and things then get misconstrued, including which services are provided by Title X.”

According to Rockwell, Title X provides services for both men and women, including cancer testing and birth control. Having a fund providing birth control for low-income individuals may actually prevent a large number of abortions from taking place.

“If we did not have family planning, there would be more necessity to have abortions,” Rockwell said. “It’s very important to keep that unintended pregnancy from happening. For me, I took the birth control pill. But they also provide the ring and the shot and the IUDs – they provide all of those things.”

With the new Title X rule prohibiting participating healthcare providers from referring patients for abortions, Planned Parenthood announced on Monday it will no longer use Title X funding. The move may prevent Title X from being treated as a partisan issue in the future, as it was in the past.

“I don’t think there was as much controversy back when Title X was started, a couple decades ago,” Rockwell said. “It’s only current where it’s become controversial. It began in 1970, and had a lot of bipartisan support.”