White House Opens Door for States to Defund Planned Parenthood

President Donald Trump speaks via a live feed to anti-abortion activists as they rally on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, during the annual March for Life. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(CN) – The Trump administration on Friday announced it is rescinding an Obama-era guidance that warned states that ending Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers would violate federal law.

In its 2016 guidance, the Obama administration said that under federal law states could only bar providers from receiving Medicaid payments if they were unable to perform covered services or if they couldn’t bill for those services.

During a conference call with reporters Friday morning, Charmaine Yoest of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said reinstating the pre-2016 standards would allow states “to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries.”

“This is part of the Trump administration’s effort to roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion,” Yoest added.

The announcement came just ahead of President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden address to participants at the March for Life, which is being held in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

And the move was praised by prominent anti-abortion groups.

“President Trump and his administration have taken a monumental stand for conscience rights and an important step toward getting American taxpayers out of funding the abortion industry, especially Planned Parenthood,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of one of those organizations, the Susan B. Anthony List.

“Despite reporting record income, Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services are in steep decline, clients are leaving, and dozens of facilities have closed,” she said. “Meanwhile, the abortion chain does more than 320,000 abortion procedures per year, and they are under federal investigation for their role in the harvest and sale of aborted babies’ body parts for profit.”

But Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, swiftly condemned the administration decision, calling it “shameful” and “further evidence of President Trump’s backwards, extreme priorities.”

“The President’s latest action to appease his extreme, right-wing base and donors will deny women and men across the country basic health care they need, and it is a direct attack on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to access safe, legal abortion care and make her own choices about her own body,” she said.

Murray also took issue with the timing of the announcement, which came with the federal government just hours away from a potential government shut down.

The administration, she said, “is working to take health care away from millions of patients and undermine women’s reproductive rights, instead of doing even the bare minimum to keep the doors of government open.

 

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