The Trump administration’s proposed domestic gag rule is another clear attack on abortion access. The rule mimics a 90s executive order in Colorado. Trump is forcing health clinics to “disentangle” themselves from abortion services or lose federal funding. In Colorado, it was nearly impossible to prove health clinics were separate from abortion services. Nearly half of Planned Parenthood clinics closed their doors because of Colorado’s executive order. Expect Trump’s domestic gag rule to do the same, but on a much larger scale.
Colorado clinics receiving Title X funding erected walls and spun off abortion services into separate corporations to comply with restrictions similar to Trump’s proposed domestic gag rule. They still didn’t receive funding.
For nearly two decades, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado, has had two front doors.
“One is the door you come into for family planning,” explained Vicki Cowart, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, “Around the corner is the other door,” leading to abortion services.
A wall divides the clinic. Abortion patients wait in a separate reception area from other visitors. Staff cross from one side to the other; patients do not.
“It’s completely stigmatizing, but it was necessary,” Cowart said, referring to an executive order by a late 90s-era Republican administration. Former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (R) was determined to eject abortion providers from the Colorado family planning program.
As the Trump administration revives a Reagan-esque domestic “gag rule,” the anti-choice politics of Owens, and former state health department chief Jane Norton, offer a bleak roadmap of the future should Trump’s plan take hold. The Trump proposal, like Colorado’s decades-old restriction, demands that providers who perform abortions or make referrals for abortion care make a physical and financial separation between Title X-funded health services and abortion services—or risk losing Title X funds.