WASHINGTON — President Trump took aim at Planned Parenthood and similar organizations Friday with a proposed new rule that would lead to a loss of funding for those that provide abortions or refer patients to clinics that do.
The new rule to be put out by the Department of Health and Human Services would ban organizations from providing abortions or related services if they are performed in the same facilities as other services that are financed by federal funds.
Administration officials said the rule will make sure that federal money doesn't help pay for abortions, while social service agencies said it is designed to deny abortions and abortion counseling to women who cannot afford them.
“Today’s rule would put Donald Trump between women and their doctors, and it signals a new phase in the Republican war on women’s health," Marjorie Connolly, communications director for the organization Protect Our Care.
White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the rule does not affect abortion clinics that do not receive federal funding for family planning services; organizations that do receive such funding should not be allowed to perform abortions.
"Let's get out of the business of taxpayer-funding of abortions," Conway told Fox News.
In a statement, the White House said the proposal requires "a bright line of physical as well as financial separation" between federally funded programs and "any program (or facility) where abortion is performed, supported, or referred for as a method of family planning."
The administration denied that the new policy is a "gag rule," saying it "will not prohibit counseling for clients about abortion," but it won't "include the current mandate that projects must counsel and refer for abortion."
Critics said the end result would be less funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood, and a lack of information for parents. "Women would no longer be guaranteed the right to health care information from their doctors," said Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood.
Republicans, notably Vice President Pence, have long protested Planned Parenthood, claiming it is violating at least the spirit of the law that bans federal funding for abortion.
Planned Parenthood uses only private money for abortion, reserving federal money for other services, a practice that is the target of Trump's new rule.
While White House officials noted that Trump pledged to institute such a rule during his presidential campaign, women's rights groups vowed to make it an issue in the fall congressional elections.
Stephanie Schriock, president of the political organization EMILY's List, said Trump is trying to "get in line with a radically anti-choice Republican Party eager to repeal Roe v. Wade and take America back to the 1950s."