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Dani Pinkus

All things feminism, funny, and fabulous.

NO GAG RULE

NO GAG RULE

President Orange is after our vaginas - again. This has been on his agenda from day one, and it will take all of us to stop him. Here’s what’s going on and how you can tell Trump, NO GAG RULE - from the national fight down to the state level catastrophes.

A couple of key things you should know going in:

What is Title X?

Title X is a family planning grant program that provides care for low-income individuals and families who otherwise could not afford healthcare. The Senate unanimously passed this bill, showing fierce bipartisan support. President Richard Nixon signed Title X into law in 1970.

The law provides education, counseling, contraception, routine exams, and other family planning services at a reduced or no cost. Title X serves over 4 million people annually, many of whom fall below the federal poverty line and are uninsured. The majority of these individuals live in rural areas, are individuals of color, and are LGBTQ+.  

Title X helps 1.9 million women prevent unwanted pregnancies, including 440,000 teens, every year. 

What is Roe v. Wade?

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision legalizing a woman’s right to an abortion. The case allows women the right to choose, with respect to her health and the potential life of the fetus. This court limited abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy, a limitation that has been challenged and overridden in certain cases. This case activated the ongoing debate on pro-life versus pro-choice.

If you want to dig a little deeper… this case was actually about Norma McCorvey, a 21-year-old woman who was pregnant with her third child and wanted an abortion. She falsely claimed that she was raped, in order to skirt around 1969 Texas law that only permitted abortion in the case of rape or incest. After considering illegal abortion and working with lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, McCorvey had her child before a local court decision was made. She gave the child up for adoption.

Coffee and Weddington pursued the case into 1970, using the name Jane Roe as McCorvey’s alias. The case ultimately reached the supreme court against Henry Wade, the Dallas, Texas district attorney at the time. Roe won 7-2.

Sometimes we forget the magnitude of this success. Roe v. Wade certifies a freedom that feels so obvious, it’s hard to imagine the work that goes into defending it. So long as the opposition is fierce, it is our responsibility to uphold and protect Roe v. Wade - especially in the face of an administration that continues to prioritize dismantling women’s rights.

To reiterate the short version, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion and a woman’s right to privacy and choice.

The Trump-Pence administration’s impending gag rule is threatening these rights. A “gag rule” is a prohibiting regulation. Think of literally being gagged by someone - having something stuffed into your mouth to prohibit you from speaking or calling out. That, or a healthy dose of BDSM. But not in this article.

This gag rule would impact three major things:

  1. Gag health care providers in the Title X program, making it illegal to refer patients to safe and legal abortions.

  2. Gag patients from getting a full scope of accurate information regarding their health care options.

  3. Gag Planned Parenthood and other birth control providers by implementing new restrictions.

The gag rule is a direct attack on Title X and Roe v. Wade. Of the 4 million+  assisted by Title X, Planned Parenthood health centers serve 41 percent. The gag rule takes this access away. The gag rule is anti-choice. The gag rule is a frightening attempt to deny women the right to their bodies.

The gag rule has also been a top priority from Trump’s campaign to his presidency. Just three days after being sworn-in, Trump reinstated and expanded the global gag rule, targeting international U.S. funded programs to prevent access to abortion. This rule forces providers to choose between U.S. financial support or providing a safe range of options for their patients.

A domestic gag rule would force health care providers at home to make the same decision, putting millions of people out of care and safe, affordable access.

On February 22, changes to Title X were released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) implementing the gag rule. As expected, the revised regulations require total separation of direct Title X funding, referral, and support for abortion.

To be clear, Title X’s function is not to provide abortion, just like Planned Parenthood’s function is not to provide abortion - they provide access to safe and honest healthcare, which provides the option to safe abortion. Yet these new regulations bar a level of provider-patient confidence that directly gags abortion talk, particularly impacting the communities in which Title X was built to protect.

That’s the national threat. The state level is currently making headlines, and these red states are not messing around. In fact, they’re playing off of this national anti-choice, anti-women rhetoric. Because liberal-leaning members are outnumbered (5-4) in the Supreme Court, now is the most opportune moment for pro-life legislation. Why? Because it has a real chance of passing. 

In the news right now:

Georgia’s governor signed the “Fetal Heartbeat Bill” into law last week. Should it become active, this law will prohibit abortion access after a heartbeat is evident. In many cases, women don’t even realize they are pregnant at this point - just five or six weeks into their pregnancy.

This anti-choice action follows Kentucky, Ohio, and Mississippi in the extreme pursuit of dismantling Roe v. Wade. As it currently stands, Roe protects abortion rights until 24 - 26 weeks, when the unborn child could hypothetically exist outside the womb. This is called viability. Since its legalization, right-wing legislation has been chipping away at this limit, challenging the ethics of viability.

On Tuesday, The Alabama State Senate passed the most devastating abortion ban yet. Unique to other gags, the “Human Life Protection Act” does not even exempt abortion access in cases of rape or incest. Like the Heartbeat Bill, the belief here is that a heartbeat is proof of potential life. That idea applies to even an unborn child out of rape or incest.

Additionally, Alabama’s law criminalizes the procedure to the extent of a Class A felony - that means up to 99 years prison time for doctors. To put it in perspective, rape is only a Class A felony if a deadly weapon was used in the assault. In the state of Alabama, abortion is a greater crime than rape.

So who exactly approved this message? The Alabama Legislature is made up of 35 senators. Four of them are women - 3 of whom are Black and 1 white. All 4 are Democrats, and voted against this act. An additional 4 men complete the Democratic representation, 3 of whom are the only Black men represented, and 1 white. That means that 27 white men voted against women’s rights in Alabama.

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This is the most restrictive bill since Roe won. Governor Kay Ivey (R) - yes, a woman - signed the bill into law on Wednesday. In her statement of support, Ivey directly attacked Roe, hopeful that this bill will encourage the Supreme Court to revisit the 1973 decision.

On Friday, Missouri passed the “Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act,” now waiting for expected signature by their governor. Like Alabama, this act also excludes rape and incest as exemptions for abortion access. It draws a hard line at 8 weeks and imposes a Class B felony for doctors; up to 15 years jail time.

Over the weekend, Louisiana followed suit. Their - deep breath - Democratic governor shared support for the impending bill, which is headed back to the senate floor for a final vote this week. Like the others, Louisiana is ready to limit abortion at the first sign of heartbeat, therefore prohibiting it completely.

As of this moment, all of these acts can be legally challenged as unconstitutional, per Roe v. Wade. But that is exactly the trap. These laws are so far outside the bounds of sanity, that their true intent is to reach the Supreme Court. Only there can the interpretation of the Constitution be challenged. The hope for Team Pro-Life then, is thatt SCOTUS will revert Roe as unconstitutional, thereby passing their laws.  

How can you take action?

These changes will likely be challenged on a large scale - but that’s just hope talking without your support. Play time is over. This is no longer a theory or a threat. Now is the time, more than ever, to make some serious noise.

Real change happens when people show up for it. If you believe in NO GAG RULE and want to uphold Title X and Roe v. Wade, please take quick, simple, and effective action here:

  1. Pledge to protect Title X with Planned Parenthood by adding your name to the open letter.

  2. Write your state representatives with a pre-populated message from SameSide or text “GAG RULE” to the phone number 52886 to defend Planned Parenthood.

  3. Donate to The Yellowhammer Fund if you are interested in giving at this time, providing access to care in Alabama.

  4. Learn more about abortion access here. Listen to the broken-down scoop here.

  5. Share this story, repost, tag, tell your friends, tell the people you love - change starts with you.

x Dani Pinkus

Artwork thanks to the very talented Ruben Guadalupe Marquez

Open Seating: Why You Should Care About NC 9

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