With new abortion rule, Trump targets Planned Parenthood

With new abortion rule, Trump targets Planned Parenthood

- in US
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WASHINGTON — The White House will roll out a proposal Friday that would effectively ban Planned Parenthood and similar organizations from providing abortion and related services under the same roof as operations funded by federal family-planning grants, according to an administration official.

The so-called Hyde amendment prohibits the use of competitive federal family-planning grant funds for abortion, but organizations like Planned Parenthood have traditionally used the federal money for other health services while using private money for abortions and related services — sometimes at the same facilities and with the same staff.

Based on a Reagan-era regulation and championed by abortion-rights opponents, the new rule would force entities that receive so-called Title X family-planning funding to maintain physical and financial separation between taxpayer-backed operations and any related facilities that perform abortions, support the procedures or receive referrals about them, the official said.

In addition to the policy implications, the decision is a monumental signal by President Donald Trump to anti-abortion activists entering a mid-term election cycle in which Republicans are worried that they will lose seats in Congress — and perhaps control of one or both chambers — because of a lack of enthusiasm within the GOP base.

“We thank President Trump for taking action to disentangle taxpayers from the abortion business,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that provides political support for candidates who oppose abortion. “This is a major victory which will energize the grassroots as we head into the critical midterm elections.

The proposed rule change — to be delivered from the Health and Human Services Department to the Office of Management and Budget — will drop a requirement that Title X grant recipients provide abortion counseling to patients. But it will stop short of giving abortion foes one provision they sought: a gag rule prohibiting recipients from discussing abortion with pregnant women.

Image: Health And Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Speaks To The Press At The White House Press Briefing
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar takes questions from reporters in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on May 11.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The proposed rule could hit many of the frontline health providers for the nation’s poorest. About two-thirds of people who visit family planning services are below the federal poverty level, according to the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

The Title X program, which provides grants for a broad range of family-planning services, was created by a 1970 law whose lead sponsors included then-Rep. George H.W. Bush, a Republican from Texas.

In fiscal 2017, Congress appropriated $286.5 million in Title X grants, much of it to Planned Parenthood affiliates.

For critics of Planned Parenthood who have been frustrated by their inability to get Congress to ban funding for the group, the new rule is a tool to achieve a similar result.

The White House official framed the proposed rule as a choice for Planned Parenthood: separate themselves from abortion services or fund themselves entirely with private money.

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