The Trump Gag Rule on Abortion Will be Deadly

In May 2018, the Trump administration proposed a policy that amounts to a three-front attack on the country’s most financially vulnerable women and their bodily autonomy.  Once enacted, it will deny them access to critical reproductive health care.

President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is gunning for Reagan-era target, the Title IX family planning program, by gagging medical professionals on the topic of abortion. Reportedly, health care providers would be allowed to inform women that abortion is an option, but may no longer be required to provide women with a full list of options, including abortion, or provide referrals to doctors who perform the procedure.  So make no mistake – this will be a gag rule in every sense of the phrase and it will close a door, maybe the only door some patients have, to important and accurate medical information.

Meanwhile, as the government seeks to close that door to women, it plans to lower quality standards in order to open a door for Title IX participation to previously unqualified providers and deceptive, so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which go to extreme lengths—even lying to women about their medical options—to promote their anti-abortion, anti-contraception agendas. (In another win for fake crisis pregnancy centers—and loss for women and medical facts—the Supreme Court in June 2018 ruled, on free speech grounds, that the state of California may not require these religiously-oriented, centers to provide women with information on how to terminate their pregnancies.)

 
 
 
 

And, in a blatant assault on Planned Parenthood, among the largest providers of Title IX services, the Trump-DHHS proposal requires Title IX providers that perform abortions to do so with separate staff in separate facilities or else lose government funding. This despite the fact that Title IX funding does not cover and has never covered abortion services. The move is eerily reminiscent of the 1970s Hyde Amendment which shutoff Medicaid funding of abortions. But the Trump policy goes to another extreme. It’s designed to raise the costs of doing business for providers like Planned Parenthood so they are eventually unable to provide any services at all. This is a direct hit at impoverished, uninsured women who receive everything from birth control to cancer screenings and HIV testing from Title IX facilities.

The Trump administration already has forced this gag rule on countries around the globe by prohibiting monetary assistance to international aid groups and governmental agencies that counsel about or perform abortions to disastrous results, including unwanted pregnancies followed by unsafe abortions and tens of thousands of deaths.

Don’t let that happen here. The consequences would be dire. There is a real and serious health risk to women for whom carrying a pregnancy can be life-threatening while miscarriage mismanagement can be deadly. Tell your representatives you want a legislative solution to this impending, wrong-headed Trump administration policy.