The Trump Administration Ban on Abortion Provider Referrals Will Go Into Effect Immediately

The Trump administration declared Monday that taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions, announcing that it will be enforcing the new regulation immediately. 

The Associated Press reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) formally notified the clinics ahead of a planned conference Tuesday that it will be enforcing the ban on abortion referrals, along with another requirement that clinics cannot share finances with abortion providers. The AP also noted that in 2020 family-planning clinics that receive taxpayer funding will be prohibited from operating under the same roof as abortion clinics. 

These restrictions mark a change to Title X, the family-planning program that serves approximately 4 million women annually through independent clinics, many of which are operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates, serving nearly 40 percent of all patients who use Title X programs. The program provides about $260 million in annual funding for family-planning clinics, Hello Giggles reports. 

Under the administration’s rule, clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with patients, but would no longer be required to do so. 

This new rule is a part of an effort by the Trump administration to remake government policy concerning reproductive health. Other potential regulations, which are currently being challenged in court, would allow employers to opt out of offering free birth control to female workers based on moral or religious objections, and health care professional would be granted more freedom to not participate in procedures that offend their religious or moral beliefs, AP reports. 

Clare Coleman, President of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said “the administration’s actions show its intent is to further an ideological agenda.”

Critics of the ban on abortion referrals, including the American Medical Association, have claimed that it would disrupt basic health care for many low-income women, such as birth control, cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. 

Meanwhile, opponents of abortion have welcomed the new rule. 

“Ending the connection between abortion and family planning is a victory for common-sense health care,” Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life, said in a statement.

But organizations, including Planned Parenthood, have vowed that they will keep fighting for those needing this essential, basic health care. 

The Trump administration’s gag rule has already faced legal challenges, CNN reports. According to an April news release, the American Medical Association, along with the Oregon Medical Association and Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit against the HHS, arguing that the “rule would cause immediate and irreparable harm to patients and providers and would politicize the practice of medicine and delivery of health care.”