Trump's attempts to defund Planned Parenthood met with roadblocks
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to defund Planned Parenthood. That has yet to happen.
Trump joined other Republicans in opposition to federal funding for the health services provider on the grounds that Planned Parenthood helps some patients obtain abortions.
"I would defund it because of the abortion factor, which they say is 3 percent," Trump said on Feb. 25, 2016. "I don't know what percentage it is. They say it's 3 percent. But I would defund it, because I'm pro-life. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood."
Federal funding does not actually fund abortions. The Hyde Amendment excludes Planned Parenthood and others from using federal dollars to pay for most abortion services, except in instances of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger. Abortion opponents argue the government is tacitly supporting abortion by funding non-abortion services.
So how far has Trump come in keeping his promise?
First, it's important to note that Planned Parenthood is not a line item on the budget, so it can't simply be crossed out. Planned Parenthood gets most of its funding through Medicaid reimbursements for preventive care and some from Title X, a Health and Human Services grant program that funds comprehensive family planning services.
Trump's proposed 2018 budget, which he sent Congress in May, called for denying funding, whether through Medicaid or Title X, to any group that performs abortions, including Planned Parenthood, even if that money isn't going toward abortions. The House and Senate versions of the budget don't include that language.
But the best shot Trump had at getting rid of the Medicaid reimbursements was through failed health care reform.
The GOP health care bill would have effectively blocked Planned Parenthood from securing reimbursements from Medicaid for a year. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, who alongside Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., killed the bill in the Senate, had cited Planned Parenthood funding as one of the conditions of their support for the bill.
The Health and Human Services Department has put all grants provided through Title X up for renewal in June 2018. Terms for grants, which have not yet been announced, are expected to set more stringent anti-abortion conditions for the funding. Heading the department is Teresa Manning, is a prominent anti-abortion activist.
The Trump administration is working to cut back access to abortion, but his vow to cut funding for Planned Parenthood has been met with roadblocks so far. For now, we rate this promise Stalled.
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Email interview with Steven Cheung, White House spokesman, Dec. 19, 2017
Phone interview with Erica Sackin, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman, Dec. 20, 2017
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NPR, Here's What GOP Bill Would (And Wouldn't) Change For Women's Health Care, March 10, 2017
Washington Post, Congressional health care bill 'defunds' Planned Parenthood, May 4, 2017
Congress moving ahead with plans to cut Medicaid payments, grant money to Planned Parenthood
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump joined other Republicans in vowing to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, solely because the health services provider helps some patients obtain abortions.
At a GOP debate in Houston, Trump responded to criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida that Trump had defended Planned Parenthood.
"As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I'm pro-life. I'm totally against abortion, having to do with Planned Parenthood," Trump said on Feb. 25, 2016. "But millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood. So you can say whatever you want, but they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly. And I wouldn't fund it.
"I would defund it because of the abortion factor, which they say is 3 percent. I don't know what percentage it is. They say it's 3 percent. But I would defund it, because I'm pro-life. But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood."
WHY HE'S PROMISING IT
Politicians and groups opposed to abortion rights attacked Planned Parenthood after a series of heavily edited videos appeared in the summer of 2015.
Those videos, from the group Center for Medical Progress, purported to show officials from Planned Parenthood discussing how the organization illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses for profit.
Planned Parenthood is allowed to donate tissue to research firms for a procurement fee. More than a dozen states launched investigations into Planned Parenthood practices and found no evidence of illegal tissue harvesting and sales.
Later on, two abortion opponents from the center were indicted on record-tampering and organ-trafficking charges. The pair reportedly used fake California driver's licenses to discuss buying organs from Planned Parenthood. The charges were eventually dropped.
Even so, Republicans cited Planned Parenthood by name as an organization the party opposed when it adopted its new party platform in July 2016.
"We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare," the platform read.
WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN
By law, the federal government is not allowed to use taxpayer funds for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. But opponents argue money is fungible, so any funds going to Planned Parenthood support the group's abortion services.
The GOP has tried for years to strip funding from the organization, but were stymied. President Barack Obama in 2016 vetoed one such bill.
Now with majorities in both the House and Senate, and a Republican president, conservatives can push through provisions that Democrats had previously been able to oppose.
Congress has been advancing filibuster-proof legislation that would begin the dismantling parts of the Affordable Care Act. A measure to stop grants and Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood could be attached to that resolution.
Because of the nature of the measure, Democrats would not be able to prevent the resolution from passing on their own.
HOW MUCH IT WILL COST
It's difficult to say exactly how much money Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government.
The organization does not get paid directly by Washington, but rather is reimbursed for services provided to Medicaid patients and through Title X grants for family planning services. Services covered under these sources include HIV and STD tests, pregnancy tests, cancer screenings, birth control and more.
Planned Parenthood's 2014-15 annual report says affiliates received $553.7 million in government grants and reimbursements that fiscal year. That's 43 percent of the group's total budget. The rest of its $1.3 billion nationwide budget comes from donations and non-government sources.
But Medicaid is a joint state and federal program, so it's hard to tell just how much money came from which source. It's also tough to tell how state governments would respond to having federal funds cut off for reimbursements and grants.
The group notes that roughly 60 percent of its 2.5 million or so annual clients are Medicaid patients. They would potentially be hard-pressed to find a replacement provider for Planned Parenthood's services.
WHAT'S STANDING IN HIS WAY
While Trump has signed a letter promising to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood while it still provides abortions, he has indicated he welcomes other services the group provides.
Some Trump voters also have expressed dismay at the prospect of eroding Planned Parenthood's ability to provide services, and the group itself has been girding for a bitter campaign to maintain services.
Furthermore, Republican senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have indicated they may oppose a final measure that singles out Planned Parenthood.
In 2017, the Senate has already voted for the budget resolution, 51-48, with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voting nay because the measure did not balance the budget and added to the deficit.
The House agreed to it by a vote of 227-198, with nine Republicans voting against it.
No Democrats voted for the measure.
Congress now will examine parts of the resolution in a process called reconciliation. While some Republicans — including Trump — have indicated they want a replacement to the Affordable Care Act before it's repealed, Planned Parenthood could still conceivably lose its federal funding if Congress includes the provision in its final resolution.
We rate this promise In The Works.
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