What is the Gag Rule?

President Trump has made the decision to bar family planning clinics and services from receiving federal funding if they either refer a woman for an abortion or promote it. This “gag rule” is preventing many women from receiving the care and contraception they otherwise lack, as well as potentially forcing some of these servicers to stop using the much needed federal funds. The federal funding—otherwise known as “Title X”—provides family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood the money they require to cover the women who rely on these services. Attempting to coerce these organizations into agreement by confiscating funds if they refer women for and promote abortions restricts the organizations in a way where many women will suffer with improper care and no contraception aid.

 

Hitting Lower Income Women the Hardest

The gag rule hurts lower income women the most, as they heavily rely on these clinics for basic medical care— including birth control and other forms of contraception, cancer screenings, testing, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Title X provides around $260 million a year to these organizations, and about 41 percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients receive family planning services under the funding. Stripping these organizations of the funds they need disproportionately disadvantages low-income women and will add to the standing issue of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned and unprepared pregnancy.

Effects on Planned Parenthood and the Response

As Planned Parenthood is a giant in the field of family planning organizations, they are the service that will be hit the hardest. Withdrawing from Title X funding means they must carry all of their costs, which could lead to inadequate care. An astounding one-third of Planned Parenthood is funded by government grants and reimbursements. Planned Parenthood has already responded. They have decided to stop the use of Title X funding and are currently relying on donations and their emergency funds to continue providing their services.

Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

Why is this even an issue in the first place? Why did the Trump Administration feel the need to place this barrier in front of women’s health?

For decades, this argument has gone back and forth. The pro-life side believes that aborting unborn fetuses is inhumane and not a choice for others to make, as it is another life form. The pro-choice side believes that abortion is a necessary right. An abortion can protect not only the woman’s physical and emotional health, but her right to her own body as the fetus doesn’t develop a conscious until ~5-6 months into pregnancy. Abortions can save a mother from a difficult life she isn’t prepared to take on and save a child from a darker future they cannot handle.

Solutions

Since barging into the White House and demanding that President Trump do away with this policy isn’t an option, thinking on a smaller scale would be more help to the women who are affected by this rule. Providing unbiased information is one way to do this. Women in this position need more information and medical knowledge— perhaps provided through alternate sources. A concerted effort by other non-profits not involving Planned Parenthood (so they could maintain their funding), like Pathfinder International, could provide women with the needed information and may be one way to go against the gag rule policy.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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