The Trump administration plans Friday to announce a new rule that would cut federal funds from any health clinics that provide abortions or referrals to other abortion providers, The New York Times reported. The change would mean that funds would be lost for essential health screenings for women.
The rule, which CBS News reported would ban federally funded clinics from discussing abortion with women, would be a massive blow to health care providers like Planned Parenthood, which offer abortions and receive some federal funds for non-abortion health services.
Laws already prevent federal funds from being used for abortions. But clinics like Planned Parenthood use federal money for things like breast cancer screenings and other health tests. The new rules would force Planned Parenthood to either give up those funds — or stop providing abortions on the premises.
The new rule reportedly would also ban any family planning clinics receiving federal funds from sharing space or facilities with abortion providers.
Clinics could continue to provide abortions only if they did so as a separate entity at a different location and with an entirely different staff, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous administration source.
Details were unclear on how the rule would affect discussions with patients. A ban on discussing abortion or providing information on where to get one, blasted as a gag rule by abortion rights supporters and medical groups, would violate the doctor-patient relationship and is likely to trigger lawsuits, CBS News said. NBC reported that the Trump rule would stop short of banning clinic staff from discussing abortion with pregnant women.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion organization the Susan B. Anthony List, thanked Trump and hailed his “decisive leadership.”
Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the change “outrageous,” saying it’s “designed to make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers.”
The proposed change — to be delivered from the Health and Human Services Department to the Office of Management and Budget Friday — will drop a requirement that Title X grant recipients provide abortion counseling to patients.
Some $290 million of Title X money was spent last year on family planning services in the nation. Medicaid money, which is the bulk of the federal funds Planned Parenthood receives, would not be affected by the new proposal, according to Bloomberg.
The crackdown is expected to take the harshest toll on low-income families. About two-thirds of people who visit family planning clinics are below the federal poverty level, reports NBC.
The Trump rule revives a Reagan-era policy that was held up in court and finally rescinded in 1994.
Trump, heavily backed by evangelicals, has already reinstated a ban on taxpayer funding for foreign aid organizations that provide abortions.
Last week, Iowa passed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, banning abortions as soon as a heartbeat can be detected, just weeks into a pregnancy before many women would even realize they might be pregnant. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have already sued to stop the law as unconstitutional.