Donald Trump made a lot of promises to his voters during the 2016 presidential campaign. From the wall, to taxes, to immigration, Trump made a lot of big promises (many of which he hasn't managed to keep). But now a new report indicates that Trump might be fulfilling another campaign promise, and it could be detrimental for the future of women's healthcare. So will Trump actually defund Planned Parenthood?
According to a report from Axios, Trump is considering reinstating a Reagan-era rule which prohibited health care centers that provided abortions or information or referrals regarding abortions — such as Planned Parenthood — from receiving Title X funding. The so-called "gag rule" was suspended by President Bill Clinton in January 1993, but now, Trump is reportedly being prompted by staffers like Kellyanne Conway to bring the decades-old rule back. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on whether the Trump administration is considering ending the Title X funding, as well as the role of Conway in any such decision, but did not immediately hear back.
In order to defund Planned Parenthood, the Trump administration would have to amend the Title X Family Planning Program — a government program separate from Medicaid that provides affordable family planning services to over 4 million Americans. Planned Parenthood and the patients they serve would be hit hard in particular, as, according to the organization, Planned Parenthood serves 41 percent of all patients that receive care through the program — even though Planned Parenthoods make up only 13 percent of Title X funded centers.
This could mean detrimental changes for the landscape of women's health care, Dr. Tanya Vayngortin, a fellow with the reproductive rights group Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells Elite Daily in an interview.
"It will really endanger not just the health care of women but also families. There’s so many women that rely on care at Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations," Vayngortin says, "And they’re going there not just for family planning, but also STI screening and treatment, primary care, and cancer screening — so there’s so many services that would be negatively impacted."
Vayngortin states that disadvantaged women, such as those from a lower socio-economic status, minority communities, or rural areas, would be hit the hardest should Trump prevent Title X funding from going to centers like Planned Parenthood. She also points out that for those who want to prevent federal funds paying for abortions, there's already legislation. The 1976 Hyde Amendment prevents federal Medicaid funding for abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman's health is in danger).
According to the Axios report, Conway has reportedly argued that there are countless other centers that are not Planned Parenthood that women can turn to for health care services. But Vayngortin says this argument doesn't hold water. "Planned Parenthood already serves so many people that cutting off this resource would make it even more difficult for people to find care," says Vayngortin.
In a statement shared with Elite Daily, Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokesperson Elizabeth Renda called the reported changes "unconscionable" and asserted that these supposed amendments to Title X could damage the health care system in this country as a whole. Renda states,
The Trump administration’s proposed plans to eliminate Title X funding for health care providers like Planned Parenthood who provide vital reproductive care and information to their patients are shameful and dangerous... It is unconscionable that a doctor’s ability to speak freely with patients about their health care is threatened, and this proposed rule is just the latest Trump administration attack on access to health care in America.
If the reports are true and Trump is planning to revoke Title X funding, it would be in line with other actions he's taken on abortion. During a GOP debate in February 2016, Trump stated, "They have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly, and I wouldn't fund it. I would defund it because of the abortion factor... I would defund it, because I'm pro-life."
And in January 2018, Trump became the first sitting president to ever address the anti-abortion event March For Life.
Trump has also made some moves during his time as president that indicate that defunding clinics that provide abortion services is a priority. On Jan. 23, 2017, Trump signed an executive order that reinstated the "Mexico City Policy," which bans federal funding of foreign groups that promote abortion — so any group that even so much as mentions abortion as an option can be subject to this policy. And on Jan 18, 2018, Trump rescinded Obama-era guidance that warned states they could be going against federal law if they ended Medicaid funding for health care clinics that offer abortions.
With this latest report, it looks like things aren't getting any better. It remains to be seen which way the wind will blow.