A law signed by President Donald Trump Thursday gave states the right to withhold certain federal funds from health clinics that perform abortions, paving the way for new abortion restrictions to pop up across the country. Nothing was immediately changed by his signature, but it's likely states that previously blocked clinics like Planned Parenthood from federal money will do so again. While it's a step backwards for reproductive rights in the U.S., there are ways to fight the latest anti-abortion law.
Utilizing the Congressional Review Act that allows laws passed at the end of the previous administration to be easily undone, Congress reversed an Obama administration ruling prohibiting states from keeping Title X family planning funds from clinics that perform abortion procedures. The Hyde Amendment already makes it illegal for federal dollars to pay for abortions, and Title X was created to help low-income people receive family planning and preventative health care, so states that enact these Title X restrictions will make it even more difficult for low-income residents to get birth control and other services.
While the new measure doesn't directly impose restrictions on women seeking to get abortions, it specifically targets clinics that offer them in an attempt to vilify certain health care providers and cut off their funding. This could negatively affect clinics' abilities to offer a wide range of health services — and could leave low-income women without any access to health care.
In a Thursday press release, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: "People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and this bill is just the latest example."
As individual states ramp up to financially attack abortion providers, there are some ways you can take action and be an ally to clinics.
Donate To Planned Parenthood
It's important to understand that states taking away abortion providers' Title X funding won't completely defund Planned Parenthood. However, losing that money would make it more difficult for clinics to offer free or cheap services to low-income Americans. Donating to Planned Parenthood can help keep services like birth control, contraception education, well-woman exams, STD tests, and cancer screenings available to everyone.
Keep Track Of Local Laws
Because the damage will actually be done on the state level, it's important to stay informed about what your local government is up to. After all, how can you oppose a law withholding Title X funds if you don't know it exists? And, as we've seen in the past, states can be pretty sneaky when sliding abortion measures into unrelated bills. The 13 states that previously blocked Title X funding from clinics performing abortions are the most likely to do so again, so definitely pay attention to legislatures in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. Read local newspapers, watch the local news, and keep an eye out for any measures seeking to single out clinics performing abortions.
Call State Lawmakers
Activists often advocate for contacting your Congress members about specific issues, but it's just as important to let local lawmakers know what you think of proposed legislation. Stopping measures before they become law is easier and less dangerous than trying to reverse rules once they're already on the books.
Donate To NARAL
NARAL Pro-Choice America organizes to fight laws that jeopardize women's health care access and supports organizations like Planned Parenthood. It works on the national level and in every state, so donating to NARAL will help kill the specific bills trying to strip clinics of funding.
Donate To Local Independent Clinics
Along with Planned Parenthood, smaller independent health clinics that offer abortions are also at risk of losing federal funding for services such as birth control and STD testing. These clinics could also use donations in case their states withhold Title X money. Here's a comprehensive list of clinics in each state that could benefit from your support.
Whether you're able to offer financial support, get involved on a political level, or simply get more vocal about your opposition to laws that target abortion providers, every act of support for women's health clinics helps keep their doors open and their services available to everyone.