Planned Parenthood refuses to comply with Trump administration's restrictions

Lily Puckett

Planned Parenthood will not comply with the Trump administration’s ban on referring patients for abortion, the organisation said Tuesday.

Instead, the family planning clinics will stop accepting federal money, tapping into emergency funding as they pressure lawmakers to reverse the administration’s ban.

On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services notified the family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood, that it would begin enforcing a new regulation banning abortion referrals. Another law, which will take effect next year, will require clinics maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions.

The rule is being challenged in federal court, but the administration maintains that there’s no legal obstacle to enforcing it.

"We are not going to comply with a regulation that would require health care providers to not give full information to their patients," Jacqueline Ayers, the group's top lobbyist, said in an interview Tuesday. "We believe as a health care provider it is wrong to withhold health care information from patients."

Ms Ayers also said that she's not sure how long that backup funding will last. Experts suggest that low-income families will be hit hardest by the move.

The federal family planning program serves about four million women annually through independent clinics, and taxpayers provide about $260m a year in grants to clinics. By law, that money cannot be used to pay for abortions.

The Trump administration’s rule moves an already strict relationship between clinics and abortion services further to the right, rewarding the conservative base that sees an anti-abortion agenda as a top priority.

While vigilant and increasingly powerful, that base remains in the minority, as polls show most that Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, and the uproar as abortion access across the US is targeted becomes stronger.

Planned Parenthood itself is undergoing changes, seemingly to fight harder against the religious right’s dominance over the current administration. On Monday, the organisation announced the departure of its president, physician Leana Wen, who cited "philosophical differences" in a letter to the staff. Sources suggest that Dr Wen was not up to the political challenges the group faces. Political organiser Alexis McGill Johnson was named as acting president in her leave.