The Trump administration rule would deny federal funds to clinics that offer abortions — or that even let women know where they can go to get an abortion.
The Trump administration's crusade against health care hit a roadblock on Monday as California became the first state to file a lawsuit against the administration's new restrictions aimed at family planning and abortion services.
And by late Monday afternoon, a coalition of 21 additional states, including the District of Columbia, had filed a separate lawsuit over the same restrictions.
The lawsuits seek to block the implementation of a new rule that would deny federal family planning funds to clinics that offer abortions — or that even let women know where they can go to get an abortion.
Because it punishes doctors for offering medical advice, the change is effectively a "gag rule" that harms health care providers and hampers women from receiving the abortions they have every legal right to obtain.
The radical change to Title X of the Public Health Service Act could impact more than 4 million patients from receiving care — including 1.6 million who go to Planned Parenthood health centers — with the aim to redirect funds to anti-abortion faith-based health care groups.
"The Trump-Pence Administration has doubled down on its attacks on women's health," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who filed the first lawsuit, in a statement. The new rule, he said, "denies patients access to critical healthcare services and prevents doctors from providing comprehensive and accurate information about medical care."
Trump, Becerra noted, "treats women and their care as if this were 1920, not 2019."
California is the nation's largest recipient of Title X funds, which cover family planning services like contraception and sexual health screenings. Title X funds already cannot be used to cover abortion services — but the Trump administration wants to use them as a weapon to bully Title X providers out of using separate funding to offer abortion.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, in explaining why her state is leading the other Title X lawsuit, called out the Trump administration for its desire to "rob individuals of the right to complete medical information and full access to the critical health care services they rely on."
This new domestic gag rule is similar to the global gag rule, which has been implemented by every Republican president since Reagan and which the Trump administration expanded in January 2017.
That rule prevents aid groups around the globe from receiving U.S. funding if they even mention abortion as an option for women.
Because this denies funding to many groups that provide comprehensive reproductive health services to marginalized women and girls, the real impact of the policy has been more unintended pregnancies, an increase in the number of unsafe abortions, and thousands more women dying in childbirth due to lack of maternal health care worldwide.
Now the Trump administration wants to silence doctors and medical professionals in the United States, too.
"Patients expect their doctors to speak honestly with them, to answer their questions, to help them in their time of need," Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a February statement about the rule.
"Imagine if the Trump administration prevented doctors from talking to our patients with diabetes about insulin. It would never happen," Wen added. "Reproductive health care should be no different. Reproductive health care is health care and health care is a basic human right."
States are leading the charge against this attack on women and health care, but they are not alone. Organizations that advocate for the well-being of women and families, such as the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights, recently announced their intentions to sue as well.
Trump is doing all he can to attack women's rights — but he won't get away with it without a fight.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.