On Friday, February 22nd, the Trump-Pence administration announced a domestic gag rule, changing the U.S. federal family planning program. Here’s what you need to know.
What does the domestic gag rule do?
The rule would forbid healthcare providers that rely on federal Title X family planning funding – like Planned Parenthood – from providing or making referrals for abortion services. That means that doctors at any healthcare clinic that receive Title X funding would no longer be able to talk to you about abortion and won’t even be able to refer you directly to an abortion provider.
How will this impact our healthcare?
Title X provides funding for family planning services for about
4 million low-income women across the country, enabling them access to vital healthcare like birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV-testing, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Those who most rely on Title X services – people of color, patients living in rural and underserved areas, and low-income patients – will face the greatest harms, as their access to fully informed and comprehensive reproductive healthcare will be diminished under the new policy.
For six in ten women seeking services from Title X clinics, it is the primary medical care they receive.
Did you know that abortion is (already) not funded by federal dollars?
Under current law, Planned Parenthood and other providers are already prohibited from using Title X funding for abortion. The gag rule takes this restriction to extremes by putting up new barriers between physicians and their patients – potentially forcing providers to either lie to their patients or close their doors.
Did you know that religiously affiliated non-profits will now qualify for Title X funding (alongside real health clinics)?!
The new rule will allow Title X funding to be diverted from genuine medical providers to faith-based groups, like ones that operate crisis pregnancy centers notorious for lying to pregnant people about their options or to programs that promote abstinence and the “rhythm method” instead of the pill. As a result, women who rely on a Title X-funded clinic for their healthcare could be given false information or a limited range of birth control options dictated by the moral beliefs of the organization instead of medical science.
There is substantial opposition: the public submitted more than 500,000 comments to the Department of Health and Human Services opposing the rule, along with 200 members of Congress, more than 20 state and local health departments and a number of major medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The rule has sparked outrage across the country. In fact, several Attorney Generals have already announced lawsuits against the gag rule.
This is no more than a back door approach to defunding Planned Parenthood and abortion providers across the country. It is a dangerous policy that will put the health and lives of women and low-income patients at risk.
We must take action now to stop it.