President Donald Trump clearly isn't kidding about his crackdown on abortion laws and rights, and he just scored a major win. The Trump administration's new "domestic gag rule" change to Title X could ban clinics that provide abortions or offer abortion referrals from receiving family planning funds, potentially making it more difficult for patients to obtain the access to health care they need. Sheesh. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
According to Politico, the administration released the final version of the change to Title X, a federal grant program that supports family planning and preventative health care, on Friday, Feb. 22. While Title X funds are already prohibited from being used for abortion care, the new rules would go further. The revision would, among other things, prohibit organizations that receive the funds — like Planned Parenthood — from referring patients to abortion care. Under the change, Planned Parenthood and other clinics would also be required to maintain "physical and financial separation" between Title X-funded care, like birth control or cancer screenings, with abortion care — meaning the providers would likely be banned from offering or referring abortion services at the same clinics or offices where they provide Title X services, even if no federal funds are used. The rule could effectively cut off health care providers like Planned Parenthood from tens of millions of dollars in funds.
In an emailed statement to Elite Daily, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) denied that the change was a gag rule, and said that providers may include “nondirective counseling” on abortion, but may not refer patients for abortion as a method of family planning. The spokesperson added that the physical separation requirement was necessary to “ensure compliance with the Title X prohibition on use of Title X funds in programs/projects ‘where abortion is a method of family planning.’”
The rule will go into effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, unless it's put on hold by a court injunction. Unsurprisingly, the rule has already seen some backlash.
Advocates say the move would force doctors and medical professionals to give incomplete information about their options, or even lie. Many are calling it a "domestic gag rule," in reference to the "global gag rule," which prohibits international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from discussing or providing abortion if they receive U.S. aid funds. NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue sounded off about the rule in a Feb. 22 statement shared with Elite Daily, saying:
Trump’s gag rule creates a country where a culture of forced silence dominates over women’s health, barring them from accessing the essential care they deserve; a country where women can’t continue to visit their trusted providers for healthcare; a country where doctors will be forced to hide information from patients.
She added, "We wait for the day the Trump-Pence administration puts a fraction of the energy they spend on ripping away access to healthcare and silencing women into actually helping the American people, but we won’t hold our breath.”
Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY's List, said in an emailed statement to Elite Daily that Trump is "stripping Americans of their rights in order to appeal to his base." Schriock continued, "Trump's domestic gag rule harms women in more ways than one. It effectively dismantles Title X, forces doctors to lie and forbids them from referring their patients for abortion, and prevents women from being able to access Planned Parenthood's services."
The rule, which was first proposed in May 2018, is just one of many attacks on reproductive rights by the Trump administration. In 2017, for example, the administration released rules that made it easier for employers to stop covering birth control, pulling back on an Obama-era requirement. President Trump has also promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that affirmed the right to receive an abortion.
So, it's dark. But there's at least one thing you can do to help. Here are a few abortion providers you can donate to, because, clearly, they're going to need it.
Editor's Note: This story was updated on Feb. 23 to include a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services.