Trump administration issues rule that could cost Planned Parenthood tens of millions

Kenny Tucker
February 24, 2019

The organization said the requirements of clear separation between family planning clinics and abortion facilities would force it to build separate entrances and exits at its facilities along with other measures.

For Teresa McCann-Tumidajski, executive director of Maine Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, this change "makes common sense".

The policy released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department pleased religious conservatives, a key building block of President Donald Trump's political base.

The administration plan also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers. Under the proposal, the agency wrote that "none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning".

Planned Parenthood and other groups representing the clinics say the new requirements for physical separation of facilities would be costly and all but impossible to fulfill.

"We thank President Trump for taking decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood", Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement. Since Title X was enacted its funds have always been prohibited from paying for abortion services. "I am grateful that the Trump administration has affirmed human life and dignity with this pro-child rule".

The revisions will go into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, according to HHS. If Friday's news is any guide, there will be plenty of pushback.

Regardless, when the new changes are implemented, Brogan said, it will alter the way many Mainers receive health care, and Maine Family Planning will likely be forced to confront how it chooses to offer services in the future.

Democratic members of Congress last week objected to what they have called an "unconventional and nontransparent" review process for the rule and called on the Office of Management and Budget to send it back to HHS for more analysis.

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Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.

"Abortion is neither health care nor family planning which is why the Title X program has no business funding it", March for Life president Jeanne Mancini echoed in a statement.

An anti-abortion marcher carries a sign calling for the organisation Planned Parenthood to loose funding, during in the 46th annual March for Life at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2019.

"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.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, D, tweeted that the new rule is "dangerous & unnecessary", putting millions of Americans at risk, and that the state would take legal action.

The updates announced Friday will replace rules that have been in place since 2000. During a subsequent 60-day comment period, the department said it received more than 500,000 public comments.

They expressed concern that Trump's "gag rule" would be finalized before HHS had "conducted a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the rule's potential economic and health impacts".

The rule would not reduce the overall amount of federal funds spent on family planning, but will redirect money to Title X centers that do not promote or perform abortions. In a February 15 letter, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Kamala Harris of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire called out HHS for taking numerous shortcuts.

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