The president reportedly doesn’t know the difference between HIV and HPV, but he still wants to penalize family planning providers.
The Trump administration will propose a new rule Friday that would block federal funds to any organization that provides or mentions abortion to women or even shares space with an abortion provider ― a domestic version of the so-called “Global Gag Rule” the president reinstated and expanded last year.
The move would notably strip Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control, STI testing and treatment, and cancer screenings to nearly half of the federal family planning program’s 4 million low-income patients. Planned Parenthood decried the move particularly in light of the news that billionaire Bill Gates said he had to explain to President Donald Trump ― twice ― the difference between HIV and HPV.
“This is a far-reaching attack and attempt to take away women’s basic rights and reproductive rights, period,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a call with reporters Friday. “I would posit that a president who it’s clear does not know the difference between HIV and HPV should not be interfering in the doctor-patient relationship.”
Anti-abortion advocates have been pushing Trump since the beginning of his term to fulfill his campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood, especially since Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried and failed to do so. A coalition of conservative groups sent the administration a letter on May 1 urging them to take this step.
“The pro-life grassroots are furious with the inability of the Republican-controlled Congress to stop taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. “We urge the Trump administration to act swiftly to revise the Title X regulations, stopping the flow of Title X dollars to abortion centers.”
Federal law already prohibits public funds from being used to pay for abortions. Women who seek abortions at Planned Parenthood or other providers must cover the cost of the procedure themselves unless their insurance plan covers it. Trump’s proposed rule would prevent providers who receive federal subsidies for birth control or other family planning services from giving women information about abortions.
Progressives are pushing back. Earlier this week, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 40 other senators sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services warning of the “devastating impact” of the proposed rule on communities of color, the uninsured, and low-income women in particular; over a hundred members of the House penned a similar letter.
“This ‘gag rule’ would bar patients from receiving information to support their ability to make informed decisions about their own reproductive health,” the senators wrote.
The rule will be subject to a public comment period after it’s proposed, and reproductive rights groups are likely to challenge it in court.