An announcement expected Friday out of Health and Human Services has abortion rights advocates and doctors' groups steeled for a new battle on the family planning front. Per the AP and New York Times, White House officials and other sources say a Reagan-era ban is about to be rebooted: one that forbids family planning clinics from sharing space with providers of abortions and related services, or from referring women to such providers. The already existing Hyde Amendment bars clinics from using federal Title X grants for abortion services, with NBC News noting groups like Planned Parenthood put the feds' money toward non-abortion-related health services and pay for abortion services out of private money; they still sometimes offer abortions and related services at the same site and with the same workers. The new rule would effectively quash that option.
What's still unclear is whether a ban on discussing abortion will ensue. That "gag rule" had been instituted by Reagan, though it never went into effect; President Clinton then rolled it back and mandated "non-directive counseling" that included various options, including abortion. The new proposal reportedly will nix the requirement for grant recipients to include abortion in the conversation, though it may not ban the topic outright. Abortion critics say this move is the right one, an action to "disentangle taxpayers from the abortion business," as Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of abortion-opposition group Susan B. Anthony List, puts it to NBC. Abortion rights advocates disagree. "This is an attempt to take away women's basic rights, period," says Planned Parenthood exec Dawn Laguens. "Everyone has the right to information about their health care—including information about safe, legal abortion." (Read more abortion stories.)