UPDATE (2/22/19): On Friday February 22nd, the Trump administration issued a long awaited rule banning federal funding to family planning organizations that provide abortions or refer patients to abortion providers. The rule is expected to redirect millions of dollars from the federal family planning program to faith-based providers, who advocate for ‘natural family planning’ and abstinence.
Defunding Planned Parenthood has been a years-long mission of the Republican Party and was a high priority promise of the Trump 2016 campaign. While Paul Ryan’s attempt to defund PP through his Obamacare repeal plan failed, Congress successfully repealed an Obama Title X rule that prohibited states from withholding federal funds for health clinics that provide abortions. Now, in the months leading up the 2018 midterm elections, Trump may follow through on his campaign promise by implementing a “domestic gag rule” through Executive Order. Similar to the “global gag rule” that cuts funding to international aid organizations providing abortion services, this “domestic gag rule” policy would make any health clinic in the United States providing abortion services or education ineligible for Title X Family Planning funds.
The Hyde Amendment (passed as part of the budget every year since the 1970s) already bans federal money from going towards abortion services. Instead, Title X funds go to helping over 4 million Americans, most of whom are at or below the poverty level, receive vital services such as cancer screenings, pap smears, birth control, and STD testing. Cutting off Title X funds would devastate the operation of dozens of health clinics across the country and lead to millions of vulnerable women losing access to their primary health providers. Patients will also have their full scope of medical options kept from them, as physicians will not even be permitted to verbally mention abortion services.
The presence of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providing health clinics has led to the overall decrease in the number of abortions by providing contraception. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that for every federal dollar spent on contraception, the government saves five dollars on pregnancy treatment. A “domestic gag rule” will reverse this positive trend, and put the health of millions of women at risk.