The White House could soon make good on another one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises: his vow to defund Planned Parenthood.
Then-candidate Trump promised during a 2016 interview with CBN News’ David Brody that, if elected president, he would cut funding to Planned Parenthood “because as long as they do the abortion, I am not for funding” the organization.
Early in his administration, the Republican president reinstated the Reagan-era Mexico City policy — sometimes referred to as the “global gag rule” — that barred U.S. foreign aid dollars from going to any organization that performed or promoted abortion.
The Trump administration is now reportedly considering reinstating a regulation similar to the Mexico City policy, often referred to by Democrats as a “domestic gag rule.”
The so-called “domestic gag rule,” much like its “global” sister, would block family planning clinics from receiving federal dollars — Title X funding — if they perform or promote abortion. As it stands right now, $286 million of Title X funding goes to roughly 4,000 clinics and serves about 4 million people, Axios reported.
At this point, it’s unclear exactly what the policy would look like under this White House, but as one might expect, Republicans and Democrats are split down the middle on the issue.
According to The Hill, a group of Republicans in the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in April, urging the federal agency to implement a “domestic gag rule.” The letter argued that the Title X Family Planning Program “is in dire need of review and updated regulations that ensure program integrity with respect to elective abortion.”
A group of more than 85 pro-life organizations — such as the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony List — sent a similar letter to HHS in early May, writing:
For far too long, the Title X Family Planning Program has been integrated with abortion centers. It is time to act swiftly to disentangle abortion centers from the Title X network.
Democrats, however, feel entirely different about the issue. On Monday, 45 senators sent their own letter to HHS, warning that “a ‘domestic gag rule’ would have a devastating impact on the overall Title X network and the millions of individuals who rely on it for care.”
“Unintended pregnancy rates in the U.S. — including those among teenagers — have been declining,” the letter continued. “We cannot threaten to reverse this progress by crippling Title X.”
More than 100 Democratic representatives in the House also penned a letter to HHS.
What’s the history of the “domestic gag rule?”
The domestic policy was issued by former President Ronald Reagan in 1988, though it was immediately challenged in the courts by opponents who argued the regulation was unconstitutional. Ultimately, though, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided in 1991 the directive could be implemented.
In 1992, the Reagan-era policy took effect but was blocked by a legal challenge shortly thereafter. Then when former President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he suspended the regulation altogether.
When will Trump make a decision?
It’s unclear exactly when the White House might announce a decision on the “domestic gag rule,” but an administration official told Modern Healthcare in April that a new executive order on Title X funding would be coming sometime in May.
Axios reported White House adviser Kellyanne Conway met with Trump in late April to discuss the regulation, urging the president to strip Planned Parenthood of its Title X funding. And so far, it appears Trump is receptive to the matter.
One conservative leader involved in the fight to cut federal funding to the nation’s largest abortion provider — Planned Parenthood doctors terminate more than 300,000 pregnancies each year — said it would be “political suicide” if Trump didn’t take action on the topic.
“I just don’t understand why they would betray a core campaign promise during a midterm election year where there are a lot of key House and Senate races where this is a winning issue in light of the polling,” the source noted.
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