Donald Trump has officially stepped between women and their doctors with a proposed anti-abortion rule that Planned Parenthood describes as “straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale.” The proposal requires that Title X federal family planning money must be “physically and financially separate from programs in which abortion is provided or presented as a method of family planning, including programs that refer for abortions and programs that encourage, promote or advocate abortion as a method of family planning.” In other words, a family planning clinic not only can’t provide abortions, it can’t present them as an option at all.
There are limited circumstances under which a doctor can provide a referral of sorts:
“A doctor, though not required to do so, would be permitted to provide nondirective counseling on abortion,” the proposed rule says. In that case, it says, a physician could provide a list of health providers, “some (but not all) of which provide abortion in addition to comprehensive prenatal care.”
“Providing such a list would be permitted only in cases where a program client who is currently pregnant clearly states that she has already decided to have an abortion,” the rule says.
So-called “crisis pregnancy centers” routinely lie to women to keep them from having abortions, but legitimate family planning clinics won’t be able to give women reliable information unless they walk in already 100 percent sure what they want to do. And while the PR for this rule is that it’s less extreme than a Reagan-era attempt at a domestic gag rule, Robin Marty points out that that rule was struck down by the courts, so this is “less extreme” only insofar as it attempts to pass judicial muster.
What’s more, Marty writes:
The Trump Gag won’t just potentially eliminate hundreds of clinics from the family-planning network, potentially blocking as many as 4 million patients from receiving the treatments or contraception they need to have families when—and yes, if—they choose. The reality is that this is a gag not just on doctors or clinics, but on the entire U.S. population as the anti-abortion movement once more lays down rules that force us to agree to their personal definition of abortion and birth control. They want us to only call abortion the “taking of a human life.” They want hormonal contraception to be accepted as harming those who use it, physically and mentally, and embrace their belief that pregnancy is the inevitable potential result of any sexual encounter. They are using the White House to make their own religious views federal law, and the federal budget as the cudgel to force any dissenters to accept their position.
Are you scared yet?
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