It could be some time before women served by the federal family program feel the full impact. Women’s groups, organisations representing the clinics, and Democratic-led states are expected to sue to block the policy from going into effect. Administration officials told abortion opponents on a call on Friday that they expect legal action, according to a participant.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.
Although abortion remains politically divisive, the US abortion rate has dropped significantly, from about 29 per 1000 women of reproductive age in 1980 to about 15 in 2014. Better contraception, fewer unintended pregnancies and state restrictions may have played a role, according to a recent scientific report. Polls show most Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalised abortion.
The Trump administration’s policy echoes a Reagan-era regulation that barred clinics from even discussing abortion with women. It never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled it was an appropriate use of executive power.
The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule took effect requiring «nondirective» counselling to include a full range of options for women.