WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s administration issued a rule Friday to restrict federal funding for groups such as Planned Parenthood that provide abortion referrals.
The rule, first proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services last year, would ban organizations from providing abortions if they are performed in the same facilities as other services financed by federal funds. It would also block funding for organizations that refer women to another provider for the procedure.
More than a dozen Democratic governors have already threatened to sue to block the measure from being implemented.
Supporters say the rule will ensure federal money isn’t used to pay for abortions, while opponents say it would restrict the ability of women to obtain an abortion and abortion counseling.
“The gag rule is unconscionable and unethical,” said from Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Imagine if the Trump administration prevented doctors from talking to our patients with diabetes about insulin.”
The administration previously denied critics’ claims that the new HHS policy is a “gag rule,” saying it would “not prohibit counseling for clients about abortion.”
Trump, who has drawn support from conservative voters on the issue, has been raising his opposition to abortion more forcefully in recent weeks. Trump discussed abortion during his State of the Union address this month, calling on lawmakers to “build a culture that cherishes innocent life,” and he also made it part of a recent political rally.
“The Protect Life Rule does not cut family planning funding by a single dime, and instead directs tax dollars to entities that provide health care to women but do not perform abortions,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.
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“Since day one, the Trump administration, along with its anti-abortion and anti-contraception allies, has made it clear that they want to undermine and restrict people’s access to family planning care,” said Kinsey Hasstedt, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights think tank.
The rule revives a policy President Ronald Reagan signed in 1988. Reagan’s effort was tied up in court, and was ultimately overturned in the first days of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Contributing: David Jackson