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Abortion ‘Gag Rule’ Just Went into Effect, and We’re Now in Full Handmaid’s Tale Territory


The Trump Administration has started to enforce what’s been dubbed the federal “gag rule” on abortion, and in one move, we’ve gone from a nation that debates abortion to one that prohibits even talking about it.

The new rule blocks health providers from receiving any Title X funding if they so much as discuss abortion with patients — even when patients specifically inquire about their options. The rule also short circuits any common-sense work-arounds; Title X recipients are required to maintain separate physical space as well as separate finances from abortion providers.

Now’s a good time to point out that even without the gag rule, federal funding can’t be used for abortions. You may remember that from recent Joe Bidendrama over the Hyde Amendment. Hyde is part of a 1976 appropriations bill that bans federal funding from being used for most abortions, making the gag rule something of a belt-and-suspenders (or perhaps, more accurately, diaphragm-and-condom) measure. Presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren has made the repeal of the Hyde Amendment one of the pillars of her campaign.

The Trump Administration’s implementation of the gag rule comes just days after the Ninth Circuit declined to step in and issue an emergency stay.

The implementation of the rule means an immediate cessation of funding for many health organizations, including the largest –Planned Parenthood. By contrast, groups that oppose abortion and hormonal birth control are now eligible for funding under the rule. These “crisis pregnancy centers” that advocate for abstinence and against birth control or abortion – often in questionable and even dishonest ways – recently received a Supreme Court win via Clarence Thomas.

Advocates for reproductive freedom and women’s rights have been quick to recognize the administration’s latest move as the next step toward Making America Gilead Again.

[image via Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos