The Trump administration on Friday set up new obstacles for women seeking abortions, barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from making abortion referrals. The new policy is certain to be challenged in court. The final rule released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department also would prohibit federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers and require stricter financial separation, per the AP. Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, along with other options; however, that would no longer be required. The American Medical Association warned it could have an impact far beyond abortion, potentially affecting access to health care services now provided to low-income women by the clinics, including birth control, cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
By law, the family planning program doesn't pay for abortions. The move is the latest in a series of Trump administration efforts to remake government policy on reproductive health. The Trump administration's policy echoes a Reagan-era regulation that barred clinics from even discussing abortion with women. It never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled it was an appropriate use of executive power. The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule took effect requiring "nondirective" counseling to include a full range of options for women. The Trump administration is now rolling back the Clinton requirement. Women's groups, organizations representing the clinics, and Democratic-led states are expected to sue to block the policy from going into effect. "I want our patients to know this—we will fight through every avenue so this illegal, unethical rule never goes into effect," says Planned Parenthood's president, Dr. Leana Wen. (Read more abortion stories.)