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Hundreds In NYC Protest Trump's Proposed 'Gag Rule' On Abortions

The Trump administration is threatening to take federal funding away from organizations like Planned Parenthood if doctors at their clinics so much as refer women to abortion services.

That stiff dose of socially-conservative reality came down last week in the form of a proposed rule posted by the Department of Health and Human Services. It would ban programs that receive federal family planning funds from providing abortions or telling their patients where to get one. However, the proposed rule does allow doctors to offer a list of provider options, including those that perform abortions, to patients that have already decided to have an abortion.

President Donald Trump has said, "American taxpayers have been wrongly forced to subsidize the abortion industry," and that his new restrictions on funding would change that.

In response, Planned Parenthood of New York held an anti-Trump rally on Thursday at City Hall Park. The National Organization of Women, which supported the event, argues that "muzzling healthcare providers on abortion is unethical and dangerous, especially for the millions of low-income women who rely on clinics funded by federal family planning dollars."

Laura McQuade, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, condemned the move by the Trump administration. “This is one of the worst attacks we’ve seen by extreme politicians attempting to practice medicine without a license,” she said, eliciting jeers from the crowd of about 300 protesters. “In New York City, more than 150,000 individuals rely on the federal family planning program for their birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventative care and would be impacted by this draconian rule.”

The proposed rule is now subject to an inter-agency review by the White House budget office, a process which could take months, and a court battle is likely before it can take effect. NYC Planned Parenthood has already begun to prepare for the “incredibly difficult” possibility that it will lose more than $3 million in federal funding as a result of the new rule. McQuade told Gothamist that she has reached out to state legislators to help fill what would be a gaping hole in the organization’s budget.

At the rally, a protester who gave her name as Eileen called the new rule deeply unjust and said she expected her health care provider to defy it. “I plan on speaking to my doctor to see if my doctor is planning to follow through on the gag rule,” she said. When asked what she’d do if the doctor abided by the new rule, she said, “Then I’ll change doctors.”

Protester Shane Larkin, who’d traveled from Huntington, Long Island, to Lower Manhattan, said she found it especially troubling that the funding cuts would fall heavily on low-income New Yorkers. “This move will mainly hurt poor people of color,” she said. “That’s not right. I believe in unfettered access to reproductive health care.”

Rally organizers said in a statement that more than half of all patients nationally who rely on federally funded reproductive services “are people of color: 21 percent identify as black or African American, and 32 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.”

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