Take Health Into Your Hands: Understanding the Gag Rule

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Understanding healthcare and access to comprehensive care is an essential right and necessity that will allow us to take health into our own hands. However with the difficult language, convoluted laws and politics surrounding women’s healthcare, it has become harder and harder to keep track of all the changes. With the political agenda to alter healthcare policy, changes like the gag rule have been instated–and its implication significantly impedes access to comprehensive care  for women across the country.
Essentially, the gag rule was created to focus on Title X, which is the nation’s affordable reproductive and preventative care, that more than 4 million individuals rely on. Title X has allowed for significant improvements, both financially as well as health related for countless women , especially those who were otherwise unable to afford healthcare for themselves. However, in spring of 2018, the Trump administration has attempted to undermine this affordable access through a national gag rule.
The gag rule would prevent health care professionals who receive Title X funding to inform patients about safe and legal measures they can take for abortions. Care providers who mention abortion as an option would no longer receive US funding to treat the patients who really need it. This new legislation, therefore, significantly limits our inherent right to be aware about our healthcare options and to have all the medical information presented to us. Regardless one’s stance on the issue, it is universally accepted that we must have the right to voice our opinions and remain educated about the multifaceted nature of the issue at hand. Moreover, when we compare the gag rule to a term coined in 1994, “reproductive justice ,” or the idea that women must have the autonomy to made decisions about their reproductive rights, it is apparent that we are still actively attempting to reach this level of health equality.
However, it’s not all bad news! With the increased number of women in congress, 102 to be exact, legislation to repeal the gag rule is taking place. By giving a voice to women who have a better understanding of reproductive rights, strides are being made to allow all individuals to have a say in the course of their own health treatment and care.  With reproductive justice in mind, soon we can better not only access but also awareness about treatment choices, so women everywhere will be able to make educated, affordable choices! If you want to get involved too, write to your representative explaining to them why the gag rule impacts your health and why you’d like for them to express opposition.

Meghana Pisupati, MS

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