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 No Gag Rule

by Dani Pinkus

President Orange is after our vaginas - again. This has been on his agenda from day one, and it will take all of us to stop him. Here’s what’s going on and how you can tell Trump, NO GAG RULE.

A couple of key things you should know going in:

What is Title X?

Title X is a family planning grant program that provides care for low-income individuals and families who otherwise could not afford healthcare. The Senate unanimously passed this bill, showing fierce bipartisan support. President Richard Nixon signed Title X into law in 1970.

The law provides education, counseling, contraception, routine exams, and other family planning services at a reduced or no cost. Title X serves over 4 million people annually, many of whom fall below the federal poverty line and are uninsured. The majority of these individuals live in rural areas, are individuals of color, and are LGBTQ+.  

Title X helps 1.9 million women prevent unwanted pregnancies, including 440,000 teens, every year. It allows individuals the vital right of autonomy over their bodies by providing safe access to healthcare.

What is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade is a 1973 United States Supreme Court decision affirming a woman’s right to an abortion. The case allows women the right to choose, with respect to a woman’s health and the potential life of the fetus. This court limited abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy, a limitation that has been challenged and overridden in certain cases. This case activated the ongoing debate on pro-life versus pro-choice.

If you want to dig a little deeper… this case was actually about Norma McCorvey, a 21-year-old woman who was pregnant with her third child and wanted an abortion. She falsely claimed that she was raped, in order to skirt around 1969 Texas law that only permitted abortion in the case of rape or incest. After considering illegal abortion and working with lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, McCorvey had her child before a local court decision was made. She gave the child up for adoption.

Coffee and Weddington pursued the case into 1970, using the name Jane Roe as McCorvey’s alias. The case ultimately reached the supreme court against Henry Wade, the Dallas, Texas district attorney at the time. Roe won 7-2.

Sometimes we forget the magnitude of this success. Roe v. Wade certifies a freedom that feels so obvious, it’s insane the work that goes into defending it. So long as the opposition is fierce, it is our responsibility to uphold and protect Roe v. Wade - especially in the face of an administration that continues to prioritize dismantling women’s rights.

To reiterate the short version, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion and a woman’s right to privacy and choice.

The Trump-Pence administration’s impending gag rule is threatening these rights. A “gag rule” is a prohibiting regulation. Think of literally being gagged by someone - having something stuffed into your mouth to prohibit you from speaking or calling out. That, or a healthy dose of BDSM. But not in this article.

This gag rule would impact three major things:

  1. Gag health care providers in the Title X program, making it illegal to refer patients to safe and legal abortions.

  2. Gag patients from getting a full scope of accurate information regarding their health care options.

  3. Gag Planned Parenthood and other birth control providers by implementing new restrictions.

The gag rule is a direct attack on Title X and Roe v. Wade. Of the 4 million+  assisted by Title X, Planned Parenthood health centers serve 41 percent. The gag rule takes this access away. The gag rule is anti-choice. The gag rule is a frightening attempt to deny women the right to our bodies.

The gag rule has also been a top priority from Trump’s campaign to his presidency. Just three days after being sworn-in, Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, targeting international U.S. funded programs to prevent access to abortion. This rule forces providers to choose between U.S. financial support or providing a safe range of options for their patients.

A domestic gag rule would force health care providers at home to make the same decision, putting millions of people out of care and safe, affordable access.

On February 22, changes to Title X implementing the gag rule were released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As expected, the revised regulations require total separation of direct Title X funding, referral, and support for abortion.

To be clear, Title X’s function is not to provide abortion, just like Planned Parenthood’s function is not to provide abortion - they provide access to safe and honest healthcare, which provides the option to a safe abortion. Yet these new regulations bar a level of provider-patient confidence that directly gags abortion talk, particularly impacting the communities in which Title X was built to protect.

These changes will likely be challenged on a large scale - but that’s just hope talking without your support.

How can you take action?

Change happens when people show up for it. If you believe in NO GAG RULE and want to uphold Title X and Roe v. Wade, please take quick, simple, and effective action here:

  1. Pledge to protect Title X with Planned Parenthood by adding your name to the open letter.

  2. Write your state representatives with a pre-populated message by SameSide or text “GAG RULE” to the phone number 52886 to defend Planned Parenthood.

  3. Share this story, repost, tag, tell your friends - change starts with you.

Dani Pinkus is a feminist opinion writer. Get more from her on her website, www.danipinkus.com


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