Reproductive rights advocates sounded the alarm Friday after the Trump administration released a final draft of a rule critics have called an attack on women's rights and dubbed a "domestic gag rule."
The implications of the restrictive changes to Title X—on which over 4 million people rely—"are staggering," said Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, adding that the move amounted to "an attack on poor women and people of color."
The release (pdf) came from the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Population Affairs. It "would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers" and "bar taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions," as the Associated Press reports. The changes would affect not only (pdf) Planned Parenthood clinics, but numerous other health centers across the nation.
Given the president's previous implementation and expansion of the so-called Mexico City Policy (aka the "global gag rule"), the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) said the administration was bringing the "deadly global policy home."
In her Twitter thread objecting to the proposal, Wen argued the new rule "compromises [doctors'] ethical obligation" and that the federal funding, apart from providing access to abortion, which is "standard medical healthcare" for women, also "helps people get testing for STDs, helps prevents cancer, and empowers people to make the best health choices for themselves."
This “gag rule” will prohibit providers from referring women for legal, evidence-based reproductive health choices.— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) February 22, 2019
I took an oath to do everything I can to help my patients, and I must be able to speak freely and honestly with them. Silencing doctors’ abilities to speak with our patients compromises our ethical obligation. Politicians have no place in the exam room.— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) February 22, 2019
The Trump-Pence administration knows what it’s doing. In a country where racism and discrimination have caused rampant inequities and disparities, an attack on Title X – a program for patients with low incomes – is an attack on poor women and people of color.— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) February 22, 2019
Planned Parenthood is proud to serve 41% of the 4 million people who rely on Title X health centers. We will always be here for our patients. We will fight this rule with everything we have.— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) February 22, 2019
"This is another clear sign that President Trump and his administration would rather bow to anti-abortion extremists than ensure people in America have access to the quality healthcare they need," stated Katherine Ragsdale, interim president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF).
"The proposed rule," she added, "would erect undue barriers to providing and accessing comprehensive reproductive healthcare, creating even larger gaps in service—especially for low income women, women of color, and the LGBTQ community."
BREAKING: The Trump-Pence administration just finalized a “domestic gag rule” that threatens reproductive healthcare access for 4 MILLION low-income people. This is a horrific attack on women’s health. #NoGagRule #DontGagMyCare pic.twitter.com/CnANEfWePO— UltraViolet (@UltraViolet) February 22, 2019
Pro-choice attorneys general and lawmakers took to Twitter to swiftly denounce the proposed changes as well.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), for her part, deemed them "nothing less than an all-out attack on Americans' health and rights, and on healthcare providers’ ability to do their jobs." Illinois Democrat Sen. Tammy Duckworth, meanwhile, drew on her own experience to condemn the proposed rule.
"Just like millions of people, I depended on @PPFA to provide quality care while I was putting myself through school and working as a waitress. We need to continue pushing back against these attacks on affordable and accessible healthcare," she tweeted.
Declaring the new rules "dangerous and unneccessary," New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed, "We will take legal action."
The Guttmacher Institite noted that while the version posted Friday could be the final one, "nothing is official until it's in the Federal Register," and it wouldn't go into effect until 60 days after being posted there. Moreover, "legal action to try to stop implementation is likely," the reproductive rights group said.