Updated May 22, 2018: Trump just officially announced his extremely dangerous "gag rule," and it's as bad as we thought.This post has been updated to reflect the rule.
Donald Trump has said from day one he wants to control women. With a new gag rule, he and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar are now trying to make it official government policy.
The gag rule is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights. Period. The Trump-Pence administration’s new rule would block patients from care at Planned Parenthood. It would also prohibit medical providers across the country from being able to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.
The Trump-Pence administration's gag rule would do three things:
- Impose new rules designed to make it impossible for patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood.
- Prevent health care providers across the country — including doctors, nurses, hospitals, and community health centers — from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion.
- Remove the guarantee that patients get full and accurate information about their health care from their doctor.
In short, a gag rule would keep women from having full information about ALL of their options, and from getting the best health care possible.
Everyone, regardless of their race, of their income, or where they live, deserves the best medical care and information available. Under this rule, they won’t get it.
Why you should care
The gag rule is an attack on Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive care that four million people rely on. Title X ensures people have access to contraception and gives them more control over their lives, health, careers, and economic security — and a gag rule takes that care away.
The administration’s gag rule would have devastating effects for women and those seeking sexual and reproductive health care services.
First, the gag rule would block patients from health care. Planned Parenthood health centers serve 41 percent of patients who get care through Title X-funded health services — yet this rule is designed to bar those patients from coming to Planned Parenthood health centers.
Preventing those patients from coming to Planned Parenthood would mean many are left with nowhere else to go, leaving them without access to birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even general women’s health exams. But it doesn’t stop there. The gag rule would apply to 4,000 Title X-funded health care providers across the country, including community health centers, hospital-based clinics, and health departments.
Other health care providers have been clear — they couldn’t fill the gap if Planned Parenthood were no longer allowed to serve these patients. Already, in many counties, Planned Parenthood health centers are the only places that provide uninsured people or people with low incomes the reproductive care they need.
This would fall the hardest on people of color. Because of systemic inequities, many patients who rely on Title X for their health care needs are people of color, who already face significant barriers to accessing health care. Black and African Americans make up 21 percent of Title X patients, and Hispanic and Latino patients make up 32 percent. After being blocked from these health centers, including Planned Parenthood, many patients would have nowhere else to go for care.
The gag rule would limit women’s reproductive health choices. This is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights. Period. Under the gag rule, if a woman is pregnant and wants or needs an abortion, her provider would be prohibited from telling her where she can go to get one. Or if a woman’s pregnancy would severely affect her health — for example, she discovers that she’s pregnant after being diagnosed with cancer — she might not receive information that abortion is even an option.
It would have dangerous and widespread health effects. We’re familiar with the consequences of a domestic gag rule because we’ve seen similar dangerous measures in effect. One of the Trump-Pence administration's very first acts in office was to reinstate and expand a "global gag rule," which bans overseas groups from receiving U.S. global health funding if they even so much as mention abortion-related services.
Evidence has shown that the global gag rule leads to increases in unsafe abortion, as well as unintended pregnancies, women dying from pregnancy-related complications, and infant and child deaths. It also leads to health center closures, which leave people with less access to care. We should be ending the global gag rule — not importing a version of it to the U.S.
We need you to speak out NOW to stop this cruel policy!
Now is the time to unite, show our power, and make sure everyone gets the health care they want or need, without politicians controlling when, how, or why.
Feature Photos Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr