In the Trump administration’s latest assault on the reproductive health of American women, Planned Parenthood will now lose $60 million in federal funding because the organization refuses to stop providing much needed abortion counseling to women.
This week, Planned Parenthood which operates about 650 health centers across the country rejected funding because the Trump administration would force the organization to stop providing abortion counseling and services. That spells big trouble for American women.
Here’s the deal — just because the Supreme Court ruled that American women could get legal abortions in America in 1973, doesn’t mean that you’ll actually be able to get one soon in this country. And today, thanks to Planned Parenthood losing Title X federal funding, millions of women, including hundreds of thousands of college students, could soon find it far harder to get access to birth control, breast exams, pap smears, emergency contraception, STD testing, prenatal care AND abortions.
Title X funding was enacted in 1970, actually by the Republican Richard Nixon administration. It was created so the federal government could provide women’s healthcare and reproductive services at clinics across the country, to low income women.
More than 4 million women – most of whom didn’t have health insurance or any other means of getting healthcare – have been served yearly by Title X clinics since then. Thanks to birth control counseling and the provision of contraceptives by these clinics, more than 822,000 unintended pregnancies were prevented in America in 2015, according to research by The Guttmacher Institute, reports The New York Times.
You may have be one of those women. But now, Planned Parenthood has taken a critical stand and is refusing to back down from its mission of providing abortion counseling and provision to the women it serves. That means it has given up $60 million critical dollars of Title X funding because Trump’s Health and Human Services Department introduced new rules forbidding any abortion counseling or referrals at clinics that it provides any dollars to.
FYI, no federal funds have been used in decades to actually provide abortions themselves. We’re talking now about Planned Parenthood counselors even being allowed to tell women with unwanted pregnancies that they have abortion as an option. In other words Planned Parenthood refuses to be gagged, but that means that they may be forced to close clinics — and in many cases, they have been the only women’s health service clinics in vast rural areas or even certain cities or towns.
“The impact of the Trump administration’s gag rule will reverberate across the country,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood’s acting president warned, while vowing to patients that, “the Trump administration may have given up on you, we never will… we will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients… our patients deserve to make their own health care decisions, not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them!”
As Alexis Johnson said, Planned Parenthood’s 650 doors will stay open for now, but funding the dollars to continue to do that will become harder and harder for the organization. And this Title X defunding news follows on the heels of a multi state assault on legal abortion in 2019, after Donald Trump’s appointment of two ultra conservative judges to the Supreme Court — Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
In recent months, Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, North Dakota, Louisiana and Missouri have all passed new laws to ban abortion after a fetus’s heartbeat is detected — typically around 6 weeks. Alabama went even further — banning abortion virtually completely, even in cases of rape and incest. and only allowing it in very few cases, if a woman has a ‘serious health risk’ or the fetus has a medical condition that would cause it to be stillborn or die shortly following birth.
And not only do these laws make abortions all but illegal in all these states, they also provide onerous punishments on both doctors who provide abortions and even on women, who get them. In Alabama, a doctor who performs a banned abortion could be sentenced to life imprisonment. In Georgia, a woman who has a banned abortion will now potentially be charged with murder and could receive life imprisonment or even the death penalty. A woman who miscarries because of what is ‘judged’ to be her own conduct for example (drinking or taking drugs while pregnant) could be liable for second degree murder, which carries a penalty of 10-30 years in prison. AND women who travel outside of the state to get a legal abortion elsewhere could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and could be punished with 10 years in prison.
Doctors as well could be facing severe sentences for performing abortions in Georgia because the new law, recognizes an embryo or fetus with a heartbeat, as a ‘natural person.’
Now, to be clear — none of these new highly restrictive and punitive anti abortion states laws are actually law yet, because they are all being challenged in courts, and injunctions have been issued . As long as the landmark Roe v. Wade law still stands, it’s highly unlikely that they will become law BUT all these states are hoping that one of their near total abortion bans will soon be taken up by the Supreme Court, and the new conservative majority will overturn Roe v. Wade.
If that happens, women in all these mentioned states and possibly more, will immediately find they can no longer get abortions in their state, even if they are victims of rape or incest or have a major medical issue that threatens their health or even their life, if they remain pregnant.
The effect of a law like these on women like you, who may want or may desperately need an abortion for medical reasons, is that doctors in these states may be NOT be willing to perform any abortions at all, because they could be prosecuted or jailed. The new Georgia law “puts doctors in an impossible position where they are faced with either treating their patient and doing what they have committed their lives to doing, or they protect themselves and let the patient die,” Barbara Ann Luttrell, the Director of Communications and Marketing for Planned Parenthood in Atlanta, tells HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “Ultimately doctors are not willing to make those decisions, so what will happen is that doctors will not want to practice medicine (for example) in the state of Georgia, which already faces an extreme physician shortage.”
Obstetricians/gynecologists like Dr. Anita Somani, who has practiced in Ohio for 26 years, fear that pregnant women in her state will die, if the Supreme Court ends up allowing the state’s new 6 week abortion ban to stand. And the US already has the greatest rate of deaths of women dying from pregnancy- related complications, in the entire developed world — 26.4 deaths per 100,000 women. Compare that to Finland with 3.8, Canada with 7.3 or even the UK with 9.2.
The Ohio bill, doesn’t allow exceptions for rape or incest, and only allows an exception to save the life of the mother.
However, saving the life of the mother, is not always a very clear cut case, at least until it could be too late, Dr. Somani points out in an interview with HollywoodLife. There are cases where the baby a woman is carrying will not survive after birth but carrying it, puts the woman’s health at grave risk. Or women “have an underlying kidney condition or heart defect… so do you wait until a woman’s kidneys are failing or a woman has a stroke because her blood pressure is so unreasonably high or do you deliver the baby and then the woman has a postpartum hemorrhage, you can’t stop the bleeding and they lose their uterus or they die,” she asks, explaining just a few conditions that put a woman’s life at risk if she continues a pregnancy, because abortion is illegal.
“If this becomes the law in Ohio, Georgia or any other state trying to push these anti abortion laws, you will see maternal mortality rates in America go up –our healthcare system will become comparable to countries that are not as developed” (like 3rd world country), she warns.
In Alabama, where Governor Kay Ivey signed the country’s most restrictive anti abortion bill into law on May 15 banning almost all abortions even in cases of rape and incest, Amanda Reyes, from The Yellowhammer Fund, vows to keep helping women obtain the abortions they need.
The Yellowhammer Fund helps women in need obtain money to pay for abortion procedures and to surmount other barriers like transportation and lodging, in order to get to one of Alabama’s three abortion clinics.
Reyes tells HollywoodLife that since Gov. Ivey signed the new law (which is on hold, while it’s being challenged in court), The Yellowhammer Fund has had an outpouring of grassroots donations.
If the law stands and abortions become virtually illegal in Alabama, she admits her fund will be buying a lot of plane tickets and hotel rooms. “I feel like we’ll be The Yellowhammer Fund giving ‘vacations’ to poor women.” She also points out that women from all political backgrounds get abortions. She used to be an escort at an abortion clinic and she says, “Republicans have abortions at the same rate as everyone else… you go through the parking lots at these clinics and there’s Trump stickers everywhere on those cars.”
To support Planned Parenthood with a donation after it’s loss of Title X funding, go to https://www.plannedparenthood.org/.
To contribute to The Yellowhammer Fund, go to https://yellowhammerfund.org/.