There is a word that the Trump administration won’t let doctors say. It is “abortion.”

The procedure is still legal, still protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court said that women have the right to choose to end a pregnancy and doctors are not prevented from performing abortions, which they do safely and humanely.

But the government has found ways to get between poor women and their doctors. This will be taken to a new level by a proposed rule that can be imposed without involving Congress.

It’s called the “gag rule,” and it is a backhanded attempt to deny federal reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for a range of women’s health and family planning (not including abortion). It wouldn’t just hurt the 100-year-old organization, however, but would also interfere with poor women getting the best medical advice available.

The new rule will be popular with abortion opponents, but it should outrage members of the medical community, who will see political maneuvering and religious belief take precedence over sound medical science and the doctor-patient relationship.

If the gag rule isn’t reversed, we could live in a country where abortion is legal but available only to people with money. That’s already the direction in which we are moving.

Thanks to a decades-old policy known as the Hyde Amendment, a doctor cannot be paid with federal money for terminating a pregnancy. Under the gag rule, doctors won’t be able to receive government reimbursement for any family planning services at all if the providers tell patients that abortion is one of the options available.

Even if they don’t perform the procedure – even if they only refer a patient who wants an abortion to another clinic – all of the federal money dedicated to family planning services would be yanked. Planned Parenthood’s clinics would lose their family planning reimbursements because the organization also provides abortions, which are paid for with non-government funds.

There are people in the administration who would outlaw abortion if they had the votes needed to amend the Constitution. But since they don’t, they are using federal health care financing to weaken Planned Parenthood’s advocacy for women’s reproductive rights and to intimidate doctors and other health care providers.

It’s no time to be silent. If we don’t want to be gagged, we should all speak up.


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