No ‘forced pregnancy’

July 21, 2019

“The right to control what happens to your own body and to make medical decisions for yourself” is one of humankind’s universal rights, established in 1948 by the United Nations.

But as of July 11, 4 million poor U.S. women and nonbinary people, predominantly those of color, are being denied that human right. According to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the Trump-Pence revised rules for Title X can go into effect in 49 states (except Maryland) until cases against the rules are resolved in various states.

This is the first attempt to turn the Title X health care program, designed in 1970 to promote gender- and class-equality for Medicaid patients, totally into its opposite.

The first change to Title X was in 1976, when the Hyde Amendment placed a huge burden on Title X patients by prohibiting federal payment for abortions for anyone except survivors of rape and incest or women whose health was endangered by pregnancy. Currently 17 states elect to cover Title X abortions with state funds.

Now, this new domestic gag rule promotes a theologically based, anti-comprehensive-health-care program that prohibits all Title X-funded health care clinics from discussing abortion options. And those providing abortions must set up prohibitively expensive separate facilities with different accounting procedures.

In addition, for the first time this revision opens up funding to “crisis pregnancy centers” and faith-based organizations so they can more easily promote their backward anti-abortion, pro-“natural-family-planning,” anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQ2S+ programs.

Nationally known Black politician Stacey Abrams coined the term “forced pregnancy” to describe the anti-abortion law recently passed in Georgia. It aptly applies to the Trump-Pence attack on Title X recipients.

This deeply reactionary move by the patriarchal, anti-working-class state — with its right-wing, white-supremacist, anti-woman and anti-gender-nonconforming agenda — is establishing rules that deny rights, rather than affirm or expand them.

This blatant attack has garnered opposition from many arms of the medical, legal, civil and human rights communities and at all levels of government.

Washington state is among those withdrawing from Title X. It will use “only state funds for its family planning program to minimize any uncertainly of whether doctors could make abortion referrals.” (Politico, July 11)

Dr. Leana Wen, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood, the primary target of the revised rule, noted that the organization will not apply for Title X funding. It has set aside funds to cover that contingency.

In a statement Wen said: “This is devastating news for the millions of people who rely on Title X … for critical primary and preventive care. [W]e … will keep fighting to block this dangerous rule that allows the government to censor our doctors and nurses from doing their jobs.”

Among many clinics and health care groups now refusing Title X funds is the Community Healthcare Network, which received $700,000 in 2018. CEO Robert Hayes told the website Jezebel, “We’re not going to commit malpractice here. We’re not going to lie to patients.” (July 11)

This is a turning point in U.S. society — for individuals and organizations. It’s a which-side-are-you-on moment during this criminal, hate-filled, anti-human Trump-Pence power drive — at the border and in the bedroom.

There is only one side in this ruling-class war. Are you for full human rights for all women and gender-nonconforming people? If so, will you link arms at the barricades to fight as we’ve never had to before?

That is required to take down this capitalist system that rests on genocide, racial violence and profound wage theft, systemic misogyny and class oppression.

It’s time to recognize the intersectionality of oppressions and show solidarity in the united fight for a world where the human rights of all people are promoted and honored.