Abortion: Trump Administration to Propose New Rules

The Trump administration will propose new rules to bar Planned Parenthood and other health-care providers from performing abortions at facilities that receive federal family planning funds, an administration official said on Thursday night.

 The proposal, to be filed by the Department of Health and Human Services, would require physical and financial separation between facilities receiving the federal funding and those where abortion is performed, supported, or referred as a method of family planning, according to the official. The person requested anonymity to discuss the plans ahead of an official announcement.

The policy would mirror similar restrictions in place during the Reagan administration. It’s the latest in a series of steps under President Donald Trump targeting abortion providers and Planned Parenthood, and will be seen as a victory for social conservatives.

The White House already reinstated a ban on taxpayer funding for foreign aid organizations that provide or promote abortions and rescinded guidance issued under the Obama administration that protected Planned Parenthood from efforts at the state level to reduce or eliminate its taxpayer funding.

The proposal will not fully prohibit clinics from counseling patients about abortion. But it will eliminate current requirements that programs and facilities receiving money from the approximately $260 million federal family planning program must be willing to counsel and refer patients for abortion.

Obligation to States

The administration’s plan would also require programs and clinics to document their compliance with state reporting laws if they encounter potential victims of sexual assault, incest, or rape in their program activities.

A tweet posted by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the group’s political arm, said that the move could prevent more than 40 percent of family planning patients from receiving health care at Planned Parenthood offices. The tweet was posted shortly after the New York Times first reported the administration’s plans.

Pressure on the White House to issue the rules increased after congressional Republicans were unable to insert a measure to cut off money for Planned Parenthood into spending legislation earlier this year.

More than 200 congressional Republicans sent letters to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging him to take the regulatory action.

Anti-abortion groups applauded the step on Thursday night.

“President Trump has shown decisive leadership, delivering on a key promise to pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan. B Anthony List, said in a statement. “This is a major victory which will energize the grassroots as we head into the critical midterm elections.”

A group of Senate Democrats who oppose the policy wrote in a letter to Azar earlier this week that “federal health policy should be evidence-based and produced with the best interests of patients in mind.”

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