Word to the Wise: Effects of Domestic Gag Rule.

June 19, 2018

We expect to hear stories all too familiar, taking us back to memories of pre-Roe.  Stories like these will happen more frequently if the HHS Domestic Gag Rule goes into effect.

Michelle and Kevin

It’s early June.  Michelle is sitting at a sewing machine, putting the last touches on her modest wedding dress.  She and her fiancé, Kevin, will get married in 10 days. They both are determined to finish college so that they can find better-paying jobs. They have been engaged for a year and can’t wait to be married, but Michelle is worried. She and Kevin want to have a family — someday —but not yet.  She is already working 30 hours a week, and barely has enough time for her studies. Without the degree that will lead to a better paying job, her college loans will be an even heavier burden.

Michelle and Kevin have been very careful not to have intercourse before marriage. During high school, they both made a pledge to abstain until marriage. But it has become more and more difficult for them to keep that pledge.  So they have decided to get married. Yet, Michelle worries about what she can do to avoid pregnancy after she and Kevin are married. The abstinence messages they got from their sex ed course in high school didn’t offer any other options beyond “sexual risk avoidance,” i.e., abstinence. The teacher mentioned contraception once but said it was risky and ineffective. Michelle thinks maybe if Kevin withdraws in time, she can avoid getting pregnant.  


It’s early June in another town.  Amber is counting the days since her last period.  It’s six weeks, and she’s afraid she’s pregnant. She was using the Pill, but her prescription ran out.  She has no health insurance. She has two small children under the age of 3. Their father lost his job when a local manufacturing plant closed. He hasn’t been able to find anything in their town other than very occasional day labor.  Amber’s part-time job isn’t enough to support the family. They simply cannot afford a third child. Amber has called the local clinic. They told her they no longer do abortion services in that location. And regulations prevent them from referring her elsewhere. She wishes that she had been able to pay for contraception two months ago.  And now it’s too late. Amber goes to the library to google “self-induced abortion.”

Stories like these will be all too common if the Domestic Gag Rule goes into place.  The Domestic Gag Rule would limit sex education to “sexual risk avoidance” or abstinence.  Clinics that receive Title X funding will not be allowed to do abortions, to mention abortion, or to refer a patient elsewhere for abortion.  

Take action now and tell HHS Secretary Azar you oppose the domestic gag rule!

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