Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay if Abortion Goes
The White House, concerned about the possible political repercussions of the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood, has proposed preserving federal payments to the group if it discontinues providing abortions. The proposal, which was never made formally, has been rejected as an impossibility by officials at Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million annually in federal funding. That money helps pay for women’s health services the organization provides, not for abortion services. “Let’s be clear, federal funds already do not pay for abortions,” Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said on Monday. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.” But the outreach to allies of Planned Parenthood is a glimpse of the internal struggle inside a White House torn between trying to satisfy the conservative base that elected President Trump and responding to the views of his older daughter, Ivanka Trump, who urged her father to tread carefully on the Planned Parenthood issue during the Republican primary contest. Mr. Trump’s older daughter has no formal role in the administration, but as an informal adviser she has made women’s issues a specific focus. She has had a mixed record of success in the administration’s early days, but during the campaign, she was able to nudge Mr. Trump toward a nuanced view of Planned Parenthood’s work. Mr. Trump confirmed the discussions in a statement on Monday to The New York Times. “As I said throughout the campaign, I am pro-life and I am deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of nonabortion services such as cancer screenings,” he said. “Polling shows the majority of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, even those who identify as pro-choice. There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.”
In private discussions with people close to Planned Parenthood, White House officials have at times suggested that there could even be an increase in federal earmarks if the work related to abortion ends.
“Millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood,” Mr. Trump said in February 2016 at a debate hosted by CNN in Texas. “I would defund it because I’m pro-life, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.” Until 2011, when he announced he had become an abortion rights opponent, Mr. Trump had supported legal measures allowing abortions. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 62 percent of voters do not favor defunding the group. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, suggested that Mr. Trump had authorized the proposal because he wanted to be able to claim that he had made an offer to Planned Parenthood and that officials with the group were not being reasonable. “The Trump administration needs to stop playing political games that would put access to the full range of safe reproductive care at risk, or they will get the fight of their lives,” said Ms. Gillibrand, who described the suggested deal as a way to interfere with a woman’s medical choices made with her doctors. Diane Max, a major donor to Planned Parenthood, called the offer “an absurd play” and said that Mr. Trump had been “sympathetic to a woman’s right to choose until it was politically unpopular” for him.
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