WASHINGTON, May 19, 2018 (BSS/AFP) - Anti-abortion activists won a major victory Friday when President Donald Trump's administration announced plans for a rule that would cut federal funding to hundreds of US clinics providing the service.
"We thank President Trump for taking action to disentangle taxpayers from the abortion business," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group.
Federal funds are already barred from directly financing abortions, but clinics have been able to obtain public money for their other activities, such as consultations, contraception and screenings for sexually transmitted diseases.
The proposed policy "would ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions," a White House statement said.
The Health and Human Services Department launched a regulatory process cutting funding for health centers that do not have different locations for their family planning and abortion services.
The Trump administration wants to separate abortion from family planning.
By requiring clinics to have different locations -- not just separate finances -- between their abortion and non-abortion services creates a new obstacle for them to secure federal funding.
"The administration's announcement today of a proposed rule on Title X family planning program fulfills President Donald J. Trump's promise to continue to improve women's health and ensure that federal funds are not used to fund the abortion industry in violation of the law," a White House statement read.
It denied reports that the new proposal would include a so-called "gag rule" first implemented by president Ronald Reagan in 1988 prohibiting clinics that receive federal funds from even so much as counseling clients about abortion.
Several steps are still required in the coming months before the change can go into effect.
Democrats and abortion provider Planned Parenthood strongly condemned the decision, casting it as the Republicans' latest attack on abortion rights. The 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion throughout the country.
But the US has seen an anti-abortion push since Trump took office in January last year, with his Republican Party that opposes abortion controlling Congress.
"The Trump administration is moving yet again to take away women's basic health rights," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, also a Democrat, added: "This is an undisguised attempt to shut down Planned Parenthood and it's shameful."
About $260 million per year are at play, according to The Washington Post, of which about $50 million to $60 million go to Planned Parenthood, which manages around 600 health centers nationwide that mostly serve low-income women.