Editorial Excerpts
June 2019

Cynics say President Trump is just pandering to hard-line evangelicals in his base, the Mike Pence chorus, in attacking Planned Parenthood. But maybe it’s not purely transactional.

Maybe, after a steady diet of Fox News fantasy, the president decided out of genuine conviction: Of all the problems in the world, and in our country, and in my White House, my priority is trolling low income women.

Either way, that’s what the new rule he just finalized, effectively defunding Planned Parenthood, would do.

It’s already illegal to use [federal funding] for abortion. But Trump now says that to qualify for this funding, clinics that perform the procedure under their roof must build entirely separate wings with separate staff to do it.

The real goal is to make it harder for low income women to get abortions.

And Trump’s rule doesn’t just require prohibitively expensive renovations. It also forbids referring women to abortion providers—the so-called “gag rule”—and says clinics funded by Title X will no longer be required to present women with all their options, including prenatal vitamins and checkups, adoption, or abortion.

This means a man like Mike Pence could open a clinic that hides medical options from women, pushes unreliable “natural” family planning and unscientific mumbo jumbo, and get federal funding—while a clinic that gives sound medical advice can’t, because it doesn’t have a second entrance.

Powerful men who oppose a woman’s right to make her own health care choices always start with the easiest target: Women in poverty.

The Star-Ledger, Newark, New Jersey, March 4, 2019

The Trump administration’s disdain for women’s reproductive rights and reproductive health care are well known.

A rule issued recently by the Department of Health and Human Services requires Title X recipients who also provide abortion services to physically separate their abortion services from their other health care services. Previously, Title X providers were allowed to offer abortion and other health care services in the same location (even with the same staff and waiting room) as long as the Title X activities were distinguishable from the non-Title X activities and costs were properly prorated and allocated.

The new rule—parts of which go into effect in May—demands that providers have separate facilities. The rule is vague about exactly what that means but says compliance might include separate treating and waiting rooms, personnel, office entrances, phone numbers, and websites.

Worse, the new rule forbids Title X providers—in the course of administering other forms of health care—from referring patients to an abortion provider, even if one is requested. The administration says that doing so is tantamount to providing the abortion itself. That’s absurd.

The most that Title X providers are allowed to do for someone who asks for a referral to an abortion clinic is offer the patient a list of comprehensive primary health care providers. Some of the facilities on the list—“but not the majority,” according to the rule—can also provide abortions. But the provider can’t point out which facility on the list offers abortions. So the list becomes what a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood calls a “scavenger hunt” for anyone who wants an abortion. It’s egregious of the government to gag health care providers, and it’s unconscionable to enlist them in a ploy of obfuscation.

The courts should enjoin this rule from going into effect and, swiftly, strike it down.

Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, March 25, 2019


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