Trump to bar abortion referrals by family planning clinics

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It's the most concrete step that the administration has taken to limit abortion access since President Trump's inauguration.

Praised by religious conservatives, the policy is bound to be challenged in court by pro-choice advocates.

Taxpayer-funded health care providers that offer abortions or refer women to other providers for abortions will no longer be eligible for these federal funds, according to the final rule.

Women's groups, organizations representing the clinics, and Democratic-led states are expected to sue to block the policy from going into effect.

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'The Protect Life Rule does not cut family planning funding by a single dime...'(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) President Donald Trump finalized the Protect Life Rule on Friday, which redirects government funding away from health centers that provide abortions-partially defunding abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills criticized the change. Reproductive health care should be no different'. "It compromises the oath I took to serve my patients and help them make the best decisions about their health", Wen wrote.

Wen suggested that the group would consider pulling out of Title X if the rules stay in place.

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The rule also does not affect most of the taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood, even though polls consistently show majorities of Americans oppose using tax dollars to subsidize abortions.

Planned Parenthood, which provides a range of reproductive health services including abortions, said the new rule amounts to a "gag rule" because it forces doctors to withhold medical information from patients. "Of the half a billion dollars or so, around 25 percent was Title X funding, the rest was Medicaid reimbursements". Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of federal Title X funds. They have also described it as an indirect way to defund Planned Parenthood, which has always been a target of antiabortion activists as the nation's largest provider of reproductive care services. Health and Human Services officials have said the change is necessary to ensure transparency and the legal and ethical use of taxpayer funds. A department official confirmed it was the final version.

She pointed out that Title X program was never meant to be a "slush fund" for abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, "which violently ends the lives of more than 332,000 unborn babies a year".

The grant programme costs taxpayers about $260m a year.

While the new rule does not entirely strip Planned Parenthood of its funding, according to Politico, the organization receives somewhere between $50 million and $60 million annually from Title X. 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.

"This rule intentionally strikes at the heart of the patient-provider relationship, inserting political ideology into a family planning visit, which will frustrate and ultimately discourage patients from seeking the health care they need", Clare Coleman, head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement.

Although abortion remains politically divisive, the USA abortion rate has dropped significantly, from about 29 per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1980 to about 15 in 2014. Two-thirds of Americans want Roe revisited to allow for state regulation of abortion or to ban it altogether.

The Trump administration's policy echoes a Reagan-era regulation that barred clinics from even discussing abortion with women. It was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, but was never implemented, and was rolled back under Bill Clinton's administration in 1993.

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