Success and Impact

Ensuring the Promise of Title X Across the Nation

Young person with an enormous, infectious, smile

Congress established Title X of the federal Public Health Service Act in 1970 to ensure all individuals have access to quality, comprehensive family planning and related health services. One of Congress’s goals in creating Title X was to meet the reproductive health needs of adolescents. Although federal Title X regulations entitle adolescents in every state to confidential, free or low-cost family planning and related health services based on their own consent, some states have adopted laws in an attempt to restrict that access. This conflict between federal and state laws can cause confusion and ultimately prevent youth from accessing the health services they need.

To clear that confusion, NCYL has published guides to help providers, patients and policymakers better understand the provisions of the federal Title X law and how the federal law should work in states with conflicting state laws.

The guides, published through NCYL’s initiative, help ensure that adolescents have access to necessary family planning services and prevention education. The materials are state-specific and include foundational analyses of privacy and access rules for youth, including mandated child abuse and other reporting laws. 

In addition, NCYL also has joined several amici briefs to challenge limitations on Title X.

Breaking barriers

The federal Title X family planning program makes family planning and related health services available to eligible individuals, including adolescents, in every state. The statutes and regulations implementing the Title X program aim to further the program’s goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies by prescribing consent and confidentiality rules designed to remove barriers to health care and to protect the privacy of adolescent service recipients.

It's important that youth and the professionals who work with them understand the services available through the Title X program as well as the Title X access and confidentiality rules. They should also understand what happens when state law appears to conflict with these rules.

Advocating for Youth 

In February, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued revisions to the regulations governing Title X. Taken together, these revisions would have seriously limited adolescent access to care and disproportionately harmed youth in rural areas, in states with fewer health clinics, and youth without family support. NCYL filed amicus briefs in three cases brought to challenge the regulations, highlighting the specific harm that the revised rules would have on young people’s health. Our brief was cited in one of the opinions.