Trump rule restricts family planning funds, politician responses mixed
A new Trump administration rule on Title X received strong reactions Monday, as news broke of the rule’s intention to bar any reproductive health clinic from receiving federal money from performing or referring patients for abortion services.
The rule has drawn strong condemnation from Democratic politicians, who see the rule as an attack on women’s reproductive rights. It has drawn praise from Trump’s conservative and anti-abortion base, which has long rallied behind the “Defund Planned Parenthood” slogan.
Monday was the deadline for recipients to submit statements saying they would comply with the new regulations.
The final rule, which was announced in February 2019, is meant to “ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions,” according to the administration. This includes both performing abortions and providing referrals to clinics and doctors that do.
While federal funding has always been prohibited to go toward abortion itself, what is new about this rule is that any facility that performs the procedure at all or provides referrals for it is no longer eligible for funding.
What it does not do, however, is restrict recipients of funding from providing “nondirective” counseling to patients on pregnancy and abortion. Rather, it lifts a prior requirement that recipients offer abortion counseling and give referrals, opening the door for some religious organizations who are opposed to abortion to receive grants.
More: ‘We will not be bullied’: Planned Parenthood withdraws from US family planning program
Republicans who back the rule applauded it as a step forward in opposition to abortion, with Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise saying Planned Parenthood is “in the business of abortion, not health care.”
South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan said in a tweet “this shouldn’t be controversial! Glad to have @realDonaldTrump who fights for the unborn.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated support for the rule in an op-ed back in February while affirming his commitment to pro-life values, and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst has also released a joint statement with other Republican leaders supporting the rule last year.
Meanwhile, Democrats and some moderate Republicans have reacted strongly against what they are calling a “gag rule.”
California Rep. Adam Schiff tweeted on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s rule was “the latest front in the war on health care.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the House has passed legislation to block the Trump rule and “the Senate must do the same.”
California Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris said she will undo the administration’s rule on her first day in office if elected, and former Vice President Joe Biden also looked ahead to a potential presidency in his response.
Others are calling for court action to block the rule. More than 20 states along with organizations, including Planned Parenthood, have already filed challenges to the rule in court.
Some Republicans have also expressed opposition following the February announcement of the final rule.
“I oppose this misguided rule change that could significantly diminish access for women to crucial contraceptive services, which have been critical in reducing the number of abortions in our country over the past three decades,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins told Maine’s WCSH. “In fact, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and I wrote to the Trump Administration last summer to express our opposition to this proposal.”