Abortion rights advocates in Ohio are worried about the effect of what they call a “gag rule” that would ban family planning clinics from receiving federal funds if they refer women for abortions or share space with abortion providers.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced the proposal on Friday, resurrecting a Reagan-era rule that’s likely to trigger lawsuits on both sides of the abortion fight.
The rule concerns facilities that receive Title X funds, which pay for wellness exams, cancer screenings, HIV tests and birth control. Anti-abortion groups are celebrating the decision, saying abortion is not family planning.
Gabriel Mann with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio notes the proposal comes on top of Ohio’s plan to strip $1.4 million in funding for Planned Parenthood, which was blocked by a federal court last month.
“And now we’re wasting countless tax dollars fighting in court,” Mann says. “But Trump wants to do this at the national level, and that would have a severe impact on Ohio patients.”
Mann also notes that this week, Toledo’s only abortion clinic was re-granted a license from the state to perform surgical abortions after ProMedica agreed to sign the required transfer agreement that a public hospital could not.
Title X serves about 4 million women every year through clinics, and costs about $260 million. Although abortion is a legal medical procedure, by law, federal family planning funds cannot be used to pay for abortion procedures.
Planned Parenthood clinics qualify for Title X grants, but must keep family-planning money separate from funds used to pay for abortions. The Republican-led Congress has unsuccessfully tried to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood in the past.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.