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U.S. Abortion 'Gag Rule' Went Into Effect This Week (Here's How Healthcare Is Changing)

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**TRIGGER WARNING**: This article deals with the topic of abortion.

President Trump's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it has started to enforce its "domestic gag rule," which blocks health providers that offer abortion from receiving federal funding through the Title X program.

This family-planning program serves about 4 million women annually through independent clinics, which serve about 40 percent of all clients. The program provides about $260 million a year in grants to clinics.

"For more than two years, the Trump administration’s needless meddling and mismanagement of Title X has led to uncertainty and confusion," Michelle Kuppersmith, director of reproductive rights watchdog project Equity Forward, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Moving forward with this policy to take away women’s rights before the legal process has played out is reckless and will hurt those whom HHS is supposed to serve."

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Taxpayer-funded family planning clinics must stop referring women for abortions immediately. The new regulation is being hailed by religious conservatives and denounced by medical organizations and women’s rights groups. The head of a national umbrella group representing the clinics said the administration is following “an ideological agenda” that could disrupt basic health care for many low-income women.

The rule mainly affects Planned Parenthood, which provides taxpayer-funded family planning and basic health care to low-income women, as well as abortions that must be paid for separately.

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The family planning rule is part of a series of Trump administration efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health. As per HuffPost, abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.

The American Medical Association is among the professional groups opposed to the administration’s policy, saying it could affect low-income women’s access to basic medical care, including birth control, cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. By law, the family planning program does not pay for abortions. Religious conservatives see the regulation as a means to end what they call an indirect taxpayer subsidy of abortion providers. Also, polls show most Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

The U.S. abortion rate has dropped significantly, from about 29 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1980 to about 15 in 2014. Better contraception, fewer unintended pregnancies and state restrictions may have played a role, according to a recent scientific report.

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