Trump’s ‘Gag Rule’ Impacts Health Services For Poor, Marginalised And Rural Communities

Millions affected.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 23 — A new Trump administration rule banning clinics from referring patients for abortions has caused Planned Parenthood in the US to withdraw from Title X, a federal programme which distributes grants to clinics.

40 percent of all recipients of Title X are treated by the organisation, which has over 600 health centers across the country. They provide essential services such as birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, breast and cervical cancer tests to poor women, to the young, people who are LGBTQIA, people of color, the poor and those in rural communities.

The decision is expected to have a wide-ranging impact, affecting clinics and patients across the country.

Four million women are served under the Title X programme, which has USD 260 million in grants.

Planned Parenthood received an estimated USD 60 million annually from the scheme, which will now cease after its decision to pull out after the imposition of the “gag rule”.

The rule makes it impossible for Planned Parenthood clinics to even discuss abortions or related information with patients.

Despite the significant loss of federal funds, the organisation plans to ensure that its nationwide network of clinics remain open. However, in some states patients will not have many other options and it is expected that that many low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood services could “delay or go without” care.

Acting Planned Parenthood president and CEO, Alexis McGill Johnson, urged the US Congress to pass a spending bill to reverse the rule. “People’s lives depend on it,” she said.

“We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” said Johnson. “Our patients deserve to make their own healthcare decisions, not to be forced to have [US President] Donald Trump or [Vice President] Mike Pence make those decisions for them.”

The organisation’s director of communications, Erica Sackin said: “In the United States we already see women having to drive impossible distances to access abortion, what this gag rule means is that women may start to have to drive hundreds of miles just to access an IUD.”

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