By threatening money for birth control and other family planning services, the Trump administration’s strategy is likely to backfire, leading to higher rates of unwanted pregnancies and more abortions rather than fewer.
Women should be informed of all their options when they seek reproductive health care, including their ability to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
But a new proposal from President Donald Trump’s administration would threaten this basic flow of information, while simultaneously cutting off money for clinics to provide vital preventive health care and access to contraceptives.
The proposed rule change from Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services has yet to be formally released, but it is expected to try to bar clinics that offer abortions from receiving federal money destined for other family-planning services.
Existing law already mandates that health-care providers ensure these federal Title X dollars do not go toward abortion procedures. Yet the soon-to-be-released rule would go further, forcing clinics to choose between providing abortions and receiving federal subsidies for other routine care, such as supplying birth control, mammograms and STD testing.
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The proposal is also expected to prevent clinics that receive Title X funding from referring women to other providers that do offer abortions, while altering a requirement that family planning counseling include a discussion of abortion as an option.
This is not a policy change that has women’s health in mind. At its core, the new rule is a back-channel attempt to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, after Republicans in Congress failed to pass similar measures as part of their unsuccessful efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
About 4 million Americans, including about 40,000 in Washington state just through Planned Parenthood, rely on family planning services paid for through federal Title X subsidies. These women are using these services to stay healthy, as well as avoid getting pregnant with children they are unprepared to care for or don’t want.
The federal government should abandon its anti-abortion crusade that would only hurt women and their partners. By threatening money for birth control and other family-planning services, the administration’s strategy is likely to backfire, leading to higher rates of unwanted pregnancies and more abortions rather than fewer.
Women and their partners don’t need additional barriers to accessing reproductive health care or exercising their legal right to decide if and when they want to become parents.
The Trump administration should respect that, instead of continuing to wage war against women’s right to choose.