KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — The Trump administration has prohibited groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from joining a federal family planning programme that could see Planned Parenthood lose US$60 million a year.
The Washington Post reported that this means federally funded family planning clinics will no longer be allowed to refer a patient for abortion and must retain a “clear physical and financial separation” between any organisation that provides abortions or abortion referrals and government-funded services.
Groups that receive funds under the Title X federal family planning programme, serving reportedly four million low-income women, are already prohibited from using that money to provide abortions.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins reportedly said reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood and other abortion centres would now have to choose between shutting down abortion services or moving them if they wanted to retain federal funding.
“Either way, this will loosen the group’s hold on tens of millions of tax dollars,” he was quoted saying.
New York Times reported that the new rule announced yesterday is not a complete defunding of Planned Parenthood, as organisations getting funds from Title X can still perform abortions, but they must do so in a separate facility from other operations and cannot refer patients to it. The new rule also requires these organisations to keep separate financial records for their abortion operations.
Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen reportedly described the rule as “unconscionable and unethical”.
“Imagine if the Trump administration prevented doctors from talking to our patients with diabetes about insulin,” she was quoted saying. “It would never happen. Reproductive health care should be no different.”
Wen reportedly said Planned Parenthood, which serves about 41 per cent of Title X patients and receives some US$60 million annually from the programme, could not accept funds under this new rule because its ethical obligations to patients would be violated.
According to The Washington Post, women participating in Title X programmes may now receive very different information under the new rule, pointing out that some religious groups advocate “fertility awareness”, which includes ovulation predictors and calendars, and abstinence methods to prevent pregnancy.
The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion nonprofit, reportedly said it expected lawsuits to stop the implementation of the law before it comes into effect.
Clinics have 120 days to comply with keeping separate books for their family planning and abortion services and a year to follow the physical separation requirement after the rule is published in the Federal Register.