Pa. critics blast Trump’s federal funding ban for clinics that provide abortion, abortion referrals

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (WikiMedia Commons)

Critics, including Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the political wing of Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania, fired back Friday at a new Trump administration rule that cuts off $286 million in federal family planning money from groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals.

The long-expected move is viewed largely as a swipe at Planned Parenthood. And it will shift millions of dollars in federal assistance from the women’s health provider to faith-based groups, The Washington Post reported.

More from The Post:

“Under the long-expected change, federally funded family planning clinics can no longer refer a patient for abortion and must maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the government and any organization that provides abortions or abortion referrals. Recipients of grants under the Title X program, which serves an estimated 4 million low-income women, were already prohibited from performing abortions with those funds.”

In a statement, Shapiro, a Democrat, said he’d sue the White House over the rule change, calling it an “an unacceptable attempt by the Trump Administration to insert the government between a woman and her doctor and gut family planning programs. I will take swift legal action to prevent this attack on Pennsylvanians’ access to healthcare.”

Last August, Shapiro and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer who has opposed legislative attempts in Pennsylvania to limit access to abortion, filed formal, legal comments opposing the proposed rule.

The change will take effect in 60 days, according to Politico, barring a court challenge.

Speaking to The Post, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the rule change will “loosen the group’s hold on tens of millions of tax dollars.” That’s because Planned Parenthood would have to choose between moving their abortion services or “shuttering them,” The Post reported.

The administration’s rule change would affect more than 169,000 Pennsylvania patients, about 38 percent of whom are served by Planned Parenthood, the women’s health organization’s political wing, Planned Parenthood PA Advocates, said in a statement.

The majority of those served by the Title X program are people of color or those who identify as Hispanic or Latino, Planned Parenthood PA Advocates said in its statement.

“Dismantling Title X will limit health care options even further and worsen the massive divide that already exists in health care,” the group said in its statement.

“Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates condemns this move by the Trump Administration to take away basic health care and the ability to make informed medical decisions from more than 169,000 patients in Pennsylvania, including more than 65,000 Planned Parenthood patients,” Planned Parenthood PA Advocates Executive Director Sari Stevens said. “Our doors will remain open. We must continue to protect access to Planned Parenthood for patients who need vital health care services including birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment.”

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.
Stephen Caruso is the Capital-Star's House reporter. He previously covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.

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