The Trump administration took aim at Planned Parenthood Friday, issuing a rule barring groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program — a move that is expected to redirect millions toward faith-based providers.
Under the long-expected mandate, which opponents vow to challenge in court, federally funded family planning clinics can no longer refer a patient for abortion and will have to maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the government and any organization that provides abortions or referrals for abortions. Recipients of grants under the Title X program, which serves mostly low-income women, were already prohibited from performing abortions with those funds.
Critics, including 15 governors, decried the change as a “gag rule” that would undermine the physician-patient relationship and threatened legal action to block it from taking effect in their states. They’ve also described it as an indirect way to defund Planned Parenthood, which has long been a target of antiabortion activists as the nation’s largest provider of reproductive care services, including abortions.
Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen called the rule “unconscionable and unethical.”
“Imagine if the Trump administration prevented doctors from talking to our patients with diabetes about insulin,” she said. “It would never happen. Reproductive health care should be no different."
Wen has said the group could not accept funds under the new rule because it would compromise its ethical obligations to patients. The women’s health care provider serves about 41 percent of Title X patients and receives about $60 million from the program.
The family planning changes are part of a broader effort by the administration’s social conservatives to reshape how the federal government views family planning and LGBTQ rights. HHS has previously issued rules that allow employers to deny insurance coverage of birth control on religious or moral grounds.