By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) – Planned Parenthood said on Monday it would no longer accept grants from a federal program subsidizing reproductive healthcare for low-income women after the Trump administration banned participants in the program from referring women to abortion providers.
The program known as Title X provides subsidies of reproductive healthcare and family planning costs for low-income women. The changes to program are part of an effort by U.S. Republicans and President Donald Trump’s administration to crack down on abortion and occur as a handful of states are imposing sharp new limits on the procedure.
The move is a significant financial hit for Planned Parenthood, which received about one-fifth of the $286 million paid out by the program, which helped to fund the 600 women’s reproductive healthcare clinics it runs across the country.
“Due to an unethical and dangerous gag rule, the Trump administration has forced Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title 10,” Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson told journalists on a conference call.
Trump, who says he opposes abortions in most cases, has joined many of his fellow Republicans in seeking to curtail access to legal abortions. Many doctors and rights groups are fighting these efforts as harmful to women’s health and in breach of a constitutional right to abortion.
The rule was also intended to help Trump fulfil his 2016 campaign pledge to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, a longstanding goal shared by many Republicans in Congress.
Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in U.S. politics, with opponents often citing religious belief to call it immoral while abortion-rights advocates call restrictions improper encroachment on women’s medical choices.
Some of the series of new restrictions on abortion are aimed at provoking a U.S. Supreme Court review of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that upheld a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
A federal court denied an emergency stay on the rule in July to Planned Parenthood, 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, which wanted to halt the rule as legal challenges are heard by courts.
The rule largely restored one that had been created in 1988 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991, only to be suspended by the Clinton administration in 1993.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)