Abortion ‘gag rule’ prompts NYC to reject federal Title X funds 

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that the city's public hospitals would reject $1.3 million in federal funds.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that the city’s public hospitals would reject $1.3 million in federal funds. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday that the city’s public health system will shun federal Title X funding as long as it restricts health providers’ ability to counsel patients on abortion care.

The announcement, which came on the heels of a tumultuous two days for the presidential candidate, followed a recent court loss for states and groups that sued to stop a Trump administration rule that bars healthcare providers who receive Title X funding from performing abortions or referring them to patients.

The federal appeals court ruling, issued on June 20, reversed a preliminary injunction placed on the rule, which has been dubbed a “gag rule” by advocates favoring a woman’s right to choose. The rule was released amid splashes of statewide legislation to restrict abortions in varying degrees.

“We’re here today because the war against reproductive freedom has come to our hospitals,” de Blasio said at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, flanked by rows of healthcare professionals and administration officials.

"The oath they took requires them to tell their patients the whole truth,” said de Blasio, gesturing to the doctors, “not to be censored by the government.”

NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public hospital system in the United States, will reject $1.3 million in funding under Title X. The city will offset the loss of federal funds.

De Blasio has promised to guarantee health care to all New Yorkers, unveiling NYC Care, meant to include residents ineligible for the city’s public health insurance option, MetroPlus, including undocumented immigrants. Abortions performed within NYC Health + Hospitals may cost as little as $0 under sliding scale options offered by NYC Care, according to chief executive officer Dr. Mitchell Katz.

De Blasio fielded questions about the timing of his Title X announcement, denying that his presidential candidacy had anything to do with it. He also defended comments he made at Wednesday’s Democratic debate about the conversations he’s had with his son, Dante, about encounters with police that were criticized as “anti-police rhetoric” by the Police Benevolent Association.

“PBA has spent decades trying to divide this city,” de Blasio said. “That’s not the members. The members I work with all the time… but the leadership of the PBA has used divisive tactics for a long, long time.”

He also reiterated he had no idea that “hasta la victoria siempre” was uttered by Che Guevara, the Marxist figure who helped build Cuba’s regime under Fidel Castro, when he said it to union workers striking in Miami on Thursday. De Blasio upset some who considered it tone-deaf to the large Cuban population there living in exile.