Washington, DC (HRW) – The Trump Administration yesterday proposed a policy that would ban organizations providing abortion services in the US from receiving federal family planning money, known as Title X funding.
This proposed rule is aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of women’s health care in the country. It will inflict tremendous harm on poor women and women of color in the US, who are more likely to depend on healthcare providers who receive this funding.
The proposed rule, introduced by the US Department of Health and Human Services, is terrifyingly far-reaching. It would prevent clinics that receive some Title X money from using their own, non-federal funds to provide abortions – they are already prevented from doing so with federal money. It would reportedly even stop clinics that receive Title X funding from referring patients to safe and legal abortion services provided elsewhere. This would force doctors to withhold essential healthcare information from women about their pregnancy options.
It’s the country’s poorest who will be hardest hit. Title X is a national program that funds services to more than 4 million Americans, ensuring access to basic reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood provides a broad range of services in some of the country’s most marginalized communities. More than half of its clinics are in areas designated “medically underserved” that are home to poor women and women of color.
The restrictions are hauntingly similar to the Trump administration’s policy on global health funding, referred to as the Global Gag Rule. This requires foreign nongovernmental organizations receiving US global health assistance to certify that they don’t use their non-US funds to provide abortion services, counsel patients about the option of abortion, or refer them for abortion. It also forbids them from advocating for the liberalization of abortion laws. Research by Human Rights Watch and others in Uganda and Kenya, which rely on US health funds to combat high maternal death rates and HIV, have found the policy has led to cuts in key sexual and reproductive health services. Experts also fear an increase in unsafe abortions – and maternal deaths – due to reduced family planning services.
Now the administration wants to import a version of this draconian policy back home. This proposed rule is bad for public health, bad for women, and bad for families.