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WTF Is A 'Gag Rule,' Anyway? The Trump Administration Will Reportedly Announce Ban On Federal Funding For U.S. Clinics That Even Talk About Abortion

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The Trump administration is expected to announce on Friday that they are reinstating a rule that would ban women's health and family planning clinics that discuss abortion from receiving federal funding, the Associated Press reports. 

Under President Ronald Reagan's administration the 1988 rule required abortion providers to be removed from the rest of family planning activities by having, as The New York Timesnotes, "separate personnel" and a "physical separation." It also sought it make it so providers who received those federal funds couldn't give patients information about abortions (Like at all) while punishing the clinics committed to doing so by cutting their funding (which contributes toward their various other services). 

The policy, typically called a "gag rule" because of that last part about blocking counseling about abortions, is essentially the domestic version of the global policy (called "The Mexico City Policy") that the Trump administration vowed to reinstate almost exactly a year ago and is one that tends to be reinstated and rescinded depending on the leanings of the administration in office (i.e. it was instated during the Reagan era, rescinded under President Bill Clinton's administration).

As the AP notes, it is also likely that reinstating this policy could lead to lawsuits that would block it from taking effect. 

For those who are anti-abortion, this will be seen as a return on promises Trump made during his campaign and a push toward removing any tax payer connection to the procedure (and ensuring that providers at locations that recieve Title X funding can't perform abortions at the same location or with the same staff.) 

For abortion advocates, the move on the domestic front is considered particularly inflammatory. Both for it's very real financial implications for clinics that support abortion providers and for the nature of denying accurate, medically sound information to patients due to the ideologies of individuals in office. 

“The notion that you would withhold information from a patient does not uphold or preserve their dignity. I cannot imagine a scenario in which public health groups would allow this effort to go unchallenged," Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association told the AP.

As abortion is a legal procedure protected under the constitution, these advocates believe that keeping doctors and providers from being able to give accurate, evidence-based counseling about procedures to be incredibly messed up — particularly since federal funds directed toward family planning already can't be used to pay for abortions (Which is actually a really complicated problem for more marginalized and lower income people. Hi, Hyde Amendment.)

As Vox notes, this move follows several from the Trump administration that regress on transparency when it comes to reproductive health — following moves that reduced access to birth control, abortion services and accurate, inclusive (and not abstinence-only) sex education.

For more about what college women really think about reproductive rights, check out Our Bodies, Our Rules


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