In a long-expected development that will most definitely be challenged in the courts, the Trump administration moved as far as it could without congressional approval to redeem its pledge to “defund” Planned Parenthood at the behest of anti-abortion groups, as Politico reports:
The Trump administration issued a final rule on Friday that could effectively cut off tens of millions of federal family planning dollars to Planned Parenthood and steer some of that funding towards anti-abortion, faith-based care providers….
Under the rule, clinics would still have to provide an array of contraceptive services but could partner or subcontract with groups that stress abstinence only or natural family planning. It would also bar Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that accept the funding from making any abortion referrals or performing abortions — regardless of the funding source — at the same facilities where they provide Title X services like birth control, mammograms and cancer screenings.
Reproductive rights advocates are calling this a “domestic gag rule,” an allusion to a long-standing Republican international policy known as the “global gag rule” (or Mexico City Policy) prohibiting U.S.-supported family planning money from going to organizations that perform or promote abortion services. It falls well short of the Trump/GOP pledge to “defund Planned Parenthood” because Medicaid remains the largest source of federal funding for services performed by the organization. But if it survives legal challenges, the new rule will have a negative impact, as the New York Times explains:
Title X provides $286 million in funding for programs that provide services like birth control, screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer and screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. These programs serve about 4 million patients each year, many of them poor, at more than 4,000 clinics. About 40 percent of those clinics are operated by Planned Parenthood, which receives close to $60 million through the family funding program each year.
“In many parts of the country Planned Parenthood is the only provider who participates in the program,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The new rule will begin phasing in after a 60-day public notice period, which will provide plenty of time for opponents to seek an injunction blocking its implementation until further judicial review takes place. If the rule is fully implemented, clinics will have a year to physically separate Title X services from facilities that perform abortions or provide abortion referrals.
President Trump and Republicans generally have been agitating the air in recent weeks about the tiny number of late-term abortions being protected under new state laws that protect this option in cases where the woman’s life or health is at risk. Today’s broad-based move against abortion and family planning services is more illustrative of the comprehensively restrictive intentions of this administration and its party. Make no mistake: Their goal is to ban all abortions at any stage of pregnancy.