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The Domestic Gag Rule, Explained

The Trump administration on Tuesday released its dangerous proposed changes to the federal family planning program known as Title X after news outlets began reporting the possible changes last Friday. These changes, referred to as the “Domestic Gag Rule,” would fundamentally change the way that Title X operates in the following ways:

  1. It would disqualify abortion providers from receiving funding for family planning services;

  2. It would ban providers from referring their patients to abortion providers;

  3. It would allow providers to pretend abortion isn’t an option for unplanned pregnancy.

This move is a cruel attack on personal autonomy, the right to receive accurate health information without political agenda, and safe, legal abortion care.

And we’re not here for it.

Title X funds are what allow Women’s Health to provide our family planning services – such as birth control, STI testing, and annual exams – on a sliding scale based on a patient’s income. Unfortunately, due to the Hyde Amendment, federal funding including Medicaid and Title X have never been able to be used to pay for a patient’s abortion care, except in extremely rare cases. So what does that mean? It means that this change to Title X is not about preventing government funds from paying for abortion. It is only about denying millions of low-income people across America their ability to access basic, preventative reproductive healthcare in an attempt to further stigmatize abortion. It is forcing clinics to choose between safe, legal abortion and affordable contraception. Our healthcare is once again being used as a political bargaining chip instead of recognized as a basic human right.

Besides taking away access to basic reproductive healthcare services like birth control and STI screening, this rule is medically unethical as it requires providers at Title X clinics to withhold vital information from their patients—like where they can go to get a safe, legal abortion. Providers now can also choose to not discuss abortion as an option when counseling patients experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, opening the door for the politically motivated care we’ve seen obstruct abortion access at Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

When you visit your doctor’s office, you expect medically informed care without political bias. This move by the Department of Health & Human Services  undermines the entire medical profession by allowing the anti-choice movement to silence medical professionals who took an oath to protect their patients. This is not okay.

Currently, the administration’s proposal is open for a 60-day comment period. Using this link from the Center for Reproductive Rights. Make your voice heard and submit an official comment to the HHS now and tell them #NoGagRule.

Locally, Women’s Health is the only Title X provider in Colorado that also offers abortion services. Our federal funding is at risk—but we will not back down. At Women’s Health, we will continue to provide high quality contraceptive and abortion care, we will continue to resist political pressure, and our patients, our community and the world will be better for our efforts.

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