Trump Aborts Freedom of Choice

New gag rule to restrict health care access

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Illustration by Darin Connolly

You choose to get an abortion because you realize you are not financially ready to have a child, the fetus is unviable or staying pregnant would put your life at risk. To learn about abortion options, you ask your health provider, but they are barred by law from telling you about all your options.

The Trump administration published a rule on March 4 that will prohibit organizations from receiving federal family-planning money if they provide abortion referrals to patients, effective May 3. 

This gag rule is unconstitutional. It will violate patients’ rights under the Code of Medical Ethics, force doctors to go against their obligation to have honest, open conversations with patients and withhold funding to organizations that provide medical services to underrepresented communities.

The organizations that used to receive money under the federal family planning program, called Title X, now have to perform abortions in separate facilities and adhere to the new requirement that they not refer patients to that service. Planned Parenthood may now lose funding because of the abortion services it provides, regardless of that right being protected by the Constitution and upheld by the Supreme Court.

To obtain a safe abortion, people will have to go out of their way to find other providers. These other providers’ caseloads will increase by an average of 70 percent to serve the 2.4 million people who currently rely on Planned Parenthood for care.

Conservatives should not limit people’s options. Making abortions illegal doesn’t stop them from happening. When denied legitimate medical care, people are forced to take extreme measures to terminate their own pregnancies. According to Reuters, about half of the 56 million abortions performed worldwide every year are unsafe. And according to the Guttmacher Institute, in countries with fewer restrictions on abortion, only 1 percent of abortions between 2010 to 2014 were deemed “least safe.” In the most restrictive countries, 31 percent of abortions were considered “least safe.” 

Organizations like Planned Parenthood provide general health care, men’s health services, treatment, vaccines and cancer screenings among other things. They provide services for individuals to make personal decisions, including abortions. 

Trump’s most recent jab at reproductive rights will create difficulties for millions of doctors and prevent patients from receiving potentially life saving care. 

While pro-lifers vie for the protection of embryos, they don’t seem to care about already born children who are struggling. Countless studies show children of color face significant barriers to being economically or academically successful because of limited access to healthy food and clean water or lack of resources at school. When pro-life advocates cry out, “baby lives matter,” they don’t try to better the lives of children who are already in this world, especially children of color. 

If the Trump administration wants to reduce the number of abortions needed, it must make contraception and health services more accessible to everyone, not restrict procedures and deny people health care. To care for the lives of children, the government must fund the places that should serve students, like public schools and educational  programs. 

In the meantime, Washington D.C., the state of California and 19 other states are suing the Trump administration to block these restrictions on Title X. California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the new rule affects 4 million mostly low-income women nationwide and 1 million women in California. As individuals, we should join them in calling out this cruel rule.

Depriving individuals of their right to make an informed decision is repulsive and dictatorial. Organizations like Planned Parenthood are necessary and should be welcomed with open arms, not spat at by politicians and conservatives who are incapable of understanding a person’s life choices, let alone their body.