The Trump administration is preparing to re-enact a Reagan-era “gag rule” that would effectively bar Planned Parenthood and other federally funded family planning organizations from providing abortions and other services in the same building — and even from discussing the procedure. Under then-President Ronald Reagan, Republicans had attempted to bar family planning clinics from discussing abortion, but lawsuits prevented the requirement from going into place exactly as written.
Bill Clinton later rescinded the policy, implementing a new rule that required doctors to provide “nondirective” counseling that included a full range of options for women — abortion among them. According to Trump administration officials, the new proposal will end the Clinton requirement that family planning clinics discuss abortion as an option with women. Further, the proposal will bar clinics from providing abortion and other services under the same roof, and even ban doctors from receiving or making referrals for abortions.
Abortion rights supporters say that the new regulations appear designed to close down many abortion providers. Forcing clinics to be physically separated from facilities in which abortions are provided is cost-intensive and impractical, noted Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. Other experts have noted that banning doctors from referring women for abortions could be construed as overriding the judgement of medical professionals.
“This is an attempt to take away women’s basic rights, period,” said Dawn Laguens, a senior Planned Parenthood executive. “Under this rule, people will not get the health care they need. They won’t get birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, or even general women’s health exams.”
“Everyone has the right to information about their health care — including information about safe, legal abortion, and every woman deserves the best medical care and information, no matter how much money she makes or where she lives. No matter what. They won’t get it under this rule,” she added.