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Trump Administration ‘Gag Rule’ Could End Small Businesses – and Lives

Christy Miceli owns Professional Imprints in Hartford, Wisc., and is one of the 58,000 entrepreneurs in Small Business Majority’s network.

If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t be a small business owner today. In fact, I wouldn’t even be alive. That’s why I’m deeply concerned about a federal rule that just went into effect because it threatens women’s access to the health services they need for their financial security and wellbeing.

A Trump administration rule that seeks to prevent some reproductive health organizations like Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding now applies in most states, despite ongoing lawsuits. The rule jeopardizes healthcare access for many low-income and uninsured individuals, including people like me who depend on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving care. 

I make too much money to qualify for healthcare assistance from my home state of Wisconsin, but I don’t earn enough income to qualify for a tax credit that I could use to help pay for health insurance. As a result I cannot afford health insurance, so my local Planned Parenthood is my primary care provider. This gives me access to much more than just birth control. When I was 24 years old, I visited my Planned Parenthood clinic for a routine physical. As a result of that checkup, I received a devastating diagnosis: My Pap smear came back positive for cervical cancer, which was an existential threat in more ways than one. Not only was there a real chance my life could end just as my adulthood was beginning, but even if I did survive I could be bankrupt. I couldn’t even afford the cheapest health plan available to me, let alone two years of cancer treatments that would cost approximately $80,000 without insurance. 

Once again, Planned Parenthood came to my rescue. They helped me finance my treatment, and I ended up paying $16,000 out of pocket. Yes, that was still a lot of money, but not so much that I could never pay it off.  

Sixteen years later, I am now a cancer-free, solo entrepreneur. After growing tired of the upheaval that comes from being a flight attendant, I decided to clip my wings and start a business that offers embroidering, silk screening and heat transferring services. The proudest moment of my life came in 2018 when I opened my brick and mortar store. I had always wanted a place that customers could come in, feel comfortable, and touch and feel the products I carry, instead of just buying something anonymously through the internet and taking their chances with the quality of their purchase. 

Now that I am a business owner, Planned Parenthood is a critical part of my operation. Since I still don’t have a health insurance plan of my own, Planned Parenthood keeps me healthy, which keeps me in business. After all, I can’t run my company if I am not well. 

I’m not alone in believing access to healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood is vital to the success of women entrepreneurs. A scientific opinion survey conducted on behalf of Small Business Majority found 79 percent of female business owners agree that access to reproductive healthcare is important for women’s economic wellbeing and stability. Additionally, 56 percent of women entrepreneurs agreed that their access to birth control and ability to decide if and when to have children allowed them to advance in their career and start their business. 

I’ve never viewed Planned Parenthood as a moral matter or a political issue. To me, funding organizations like Planned Parenthood is about compassion, health access and affordability and is just common sense. 

Funding healthcare providers that offer low-cost or free services is also about supporting entrepreneurship. There should be more options for those like me who may not have the means to pay for traditional healthcare coverage, and taking federal funding away from healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood not only strips people of options but leaves many people, particularly women, vulnerable to illnesses like cervical cancer. 

Just like me, many women who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health services might be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and job creators. That is just one more reason Congress must act to protect their care options.

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