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Wednesday, August 12

Previous Issues

Her body, his choice?

Wikimedia commons
Wikimedia commons

This Friday, the Trump administration announced its new rule, which will cut Title X funding for clinics that provide abortions or abortion referrals. Providers will have to make abortion facilities “physically and financially” separate from their federally funded clinics, including separate staff and entrances. The rule will also contain a “domestic gag rule,” which will prohibit doctors and nurses from providing their pregnant patients with any information about the abortion procedure. 

If medical providers want federal assistance, they must not “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.” Essentially, health care providers will have to choose between funds and the well-being of their patients, which ultimately violates medical ethics and nullifies the oath that doctors take to put their patients’ needs first. 

The new rule has made abortion and Title X interdependent, which is not a surprising move from an administration that has made a mission to defund Planned Parenthood simply because it offers abortion services. However, there is so much more to Title X that is lost in the midst of the abortion debate.

The family planning program serves up to four million low-income women and families and offers them access to services such as contraception, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and various other forms of preventative care. For many women, Title X providers such as Planned Parenthood are their only source for adequate health care, and the loss of funds will leave a significant number of women, especially minority women, without basic care. 

A 2016 report found that 89 percent of care receivers, through Title X, identified as female and 64 percent had family incomes at or below the poverty line. Contrary to Trump’s beliefs, constructing barriers does not solve solutions nor offer any protection; it just leads to more suffering among the vulnerable population. 

When looking at the laws, it is important to also look at the track record of the lawmakers themselves. In 2011, Mike Pence cosponsored a bill that would have forced women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and then listen to the description of the embryo in great detail. He cosponsored another bill that would only allow federal funds for abortion if it was a case of “forcible rape,” redefining rape as an act that could somehow possibly be one without force. And on top of all that, he supported a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women with life-threatening conditions. It comes as no surprise that Pence is now supporting a bill that, once again, leaves out the notion of consent and completely ignores the safety of women. 

While Trump needs no introduction when it comes to consent, the president’s stances on abortion throughout the years are not as widely known. In 1999, during an interview on “Meet the Press,” Trump declared that he was “very pro-choice,” and although he cringed at the concept of abortion, he said, “still — I just believe in choice.” However, in 2011, in the midst of his presidential aspirations, Trump seemed to change his mind and told the Conservative Political Action Conference: “I am pro-life.” In 2016, he changed his stance about five times in a matter of a few days. 

While Trump may feel entitled to women’s bodies — to grab them, to insult them — they are not dispensable. While Trump’s views may be malleable (often in pursuit of political gain), women’s bodies are not, and they should not be subject to the wishy-washy nature of his presidency. There are no such things as alternative facts in medicine. At the very least, patients deserve and expect complete and accurate information.   

If this bill passes as planned, politicians will have successfully inserted themselves into the exam room, undermining the legacy of Roe v. Wade and the right to privacy. For some reason, reproductive healthcare is considered to be something different than healthcare, which is exactly what it is. The care for one’s health. There is no pro-abortion side, only pro-accessible healthcare. Imagine if a man with testicular issues or a sexually transmitted infection was denied information about his options for treatment. That wouldn’t happen. 

Women are caught in the crossfire of many wars, over religion and politics and science. But at the end of the day, when all the battles have been fought or forgotten, when the men have either fled or remained, the woman is the one who has to live with her choices. Let her be the one to make them. 

Winnie Brandfield-Harvey is a junior Wilson School concentrator from Houston, Texas. She can be reached at

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