The contradictions continue to heighten nicely:
The new Trump Administration rule governing Title X, the federal program that funds birth control and other reproductive-health services for low-income women, is very much in this spirit. Since its enactment, in 1970, under the Nixon Administration, Title X has specified that federal funding cannot be used for abortions. At the same time, the Title X statute required that health-care providers inform a woman, through “non-directive” counselling, about the full range of her options, including prenatal care, childbirth, adoption, and pregnancy termination, and offer referrals for abortion providers upon request. Moreover, some of the clinics that use Title X funds to offer women various reproductive-health services—cancer screenings, birth control, S.T.D. tests, and so on—also provide abortions in the same facility, without Title X funding.
Under the new rule, which will be enforced starting September 18th, health-care providers that receive Title X funding will not be allowed to refer patients to abortion providers, even when patients request such referrals. A Health and Human Services Department announcement makes a point of saying that this is not a “gag rule,” because health-care workers can still mention abortion as part of their comprehensive pregnancy counselling (though they are no longer required to). Call it what you will—interference with what a doctor or nurse can tell a patient about how and where to access care is a very real limitation, making the experience harder for the patient and marking the procedure in question as not quite legitimate. (It might be available somewhere, but I’m not saying.) The new rules twist themselves into knots with a concession that Title X clinics may give patients a list of providers that offer comprehensive care, as long as a majority of those providers do not perform abortions, and the list does not indicate who actually does. In a statement for an unsuccessful lawsuit that sought an injunction on the new rule, J. Elisabeth Kruse, an advanced registered nurse practitioner with the Public Health Department in Seattle and King County, explained that, without assistance or referrals, many of the Title X patients would struggle to find help ending an unwanted pregnancy. These included patients from immigrant or refugee communities (who might not know under what circumstances abortion is legal in the United States), adolescents, and patients who are homeless, mentally ill, or illiterate.
Last week, Planned Parenthood, which serves forty per cent of Title X patients and, in some states, is the main or the only provider under the program, announced that it would stop taking the federal funds rather than comply with the new rule. Planned Parenthood’s acting president and C.E.O., Alexis McGill Johnson, explained the decision this way: “When you have an unethical rule that will limit what providers can tell our patients, it becomes really important that we not agree to be in the program.” Several Democratic governors, including those of Hawaii, New York, and Oregon, have said that their states would now refuse Title X funds, as well.
You can’t make an omelet without a lot of women being coerced through various means to carry pregnancies to term.