Health clinics brace for showdown with Trump administration over abortion 'gag rule'

Health clinics brace for showdown with Trump administration over abortion 'gag rule'

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Health practitioners and government leaders locally and nationally are gearing up for a showdown with the Trump administration over a proposed rule change that would withhold federal funds to family planning clinics that provide information about or refer women seeking an abortion.

Nearly two thirds of the state's family planning services could be impacted by the rule.

"The administration may say it's not a gag rule, it is a gag rule," said Doris Segal Matsunaga, maternal child health director at Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services. "It is a gag rule banning certain speech."

Title X funding provides money for birth control and other family planning services.

The Trump Administration doesn't want any of that money to go to anything that supports abortion. And that's got health center professionals alarmed, including about what they're being told they must say if a patient asks about an abortion.

According to Matsunaga, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is telling health practitioners that if asked about abortion, they'll have to say something like, "The project does not consider abortion a method of family planning and therefore does not refer for abortion."

The clinics say for the good of their patients they can't follow that script.

But if they don't, a health center like Kokua Kalihi Valley could lose $160,000 in federal funding.

There are 12 clinics in Hawaii that would be impacted by the funding cuts.

Kokua Kalihi Valley doesn't perform abortions, but like the others, it does make referrals.

Linda Khalek works at Kokua Kalihi Valley and remembers coming here for services in high school.

"It is important for anyone out here who wants to get services. They are here for anybody. They'll help with anything," she said.

Kokua Kalihi Valley says if it loses its Title X funding, walk-in family planning services would need to be cut back.

The Ige Administration is threatening to pull out of the program if changes take place. Other states have threatened to sue.

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