Saturday, February 23, 2019

Trump Administration Adopts Domestic Gag Rule

Mother Jones (Feb. 22, 2019): A New HHS Rule Aims to Strip Planned Parenthood's Title X Funding, by Marisa Endicot:

Friday, the Trump Administration adopted a new rule that will bar family providers from participating in the federal Title X program if they also perform abortions in the same facilities.  The regulations will also prohibit providers participating in the program from giving abortion referrals. The rule has been criticized as an indirect way for the federal government to de-fund Planned Parenthood, which it has unable to do directly, and because it will cause participating health care providers to violate their ethical obligation to counsel patients in a non-directive manner and undermine  the doctor-patient relationship.

Planned Parenthood, which serves about 41% of Title X patients, has indicated that it will not accept Title X funding if the rule goes into effect because it would undermine providers' ethical obligations.  In addition to prohibiting abortion referrals, the rule eliminates a requirement that providers provide "non-directive counseling" and a November funding announcement elevated the importance of "natural family planning" and abstinence as Title X funding priorities. Critics are concerned that the rule may result in a shift of funding to religiously affiliated organizations that try to persuade women not to have abortions or use contraception.  The rule states that the requirement is "inconsistent with federal conscience laws" signaling that the Administration might prioritize funding religiously affiliated groups seeking to impose their beliefs on others rather than insuring that patients receive unbiased and medically accurate information in a government funding health program.

The rule will go into effect in 60 days after publication.  Legal challenges are expected.

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