On the eve of the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's first year in office and the historic Women's March, the administration once again targeted Planned Parenthood. In a move that was consistent with efforts attacking reproductive rights through Trump's first year, the administration announced Friday that it had rescinded an Obama-era guidance that made it more difficult for states to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
In 2016, President Obama issued a guidance warning states that withholding Medicaid funding from health providers that offer abortion-care violates federal law. According to the Obama administration, states could only end funding for providers that either failed to perform services covered under Medicaid or that didn't bill for said services.
But the Trump administration argued that Obama had an agenda favoring abortion rights, and that's why it had established the guidance.
"Reinstating the pre-2016 standards frees up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries," said Charmaine Yoest, a former anti-abortion activist and assistant Health and Human Services secretary for public affairs, according to The Hill. "This is part of the Trump administration's effort to roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion."
Defunding Planned Parenthood was one of Trump's main campaign promises. (Even though a majority of Americans oppose withholding federal fund from the organization, about 57% of Trump voters support it.)
About 2.4 million people go to Planned Parenthood clinics across the country every year, and more than half of those patients rely on Medicaid. If states follow through with defunding the organization, the move would expressly hurt low-income women and other minorities at risk: Only 3% of the services offered by Planned Parenthood amount to abortion procedures — the organization primarily focuses on offering services such as birth control, STI screening and treatment, sex education, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other healthcare-related needs. The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortion-care, so if states withhold Medicaid reimbursements it would mean cuts to these other crucial services.
"The Trump-Pence administration makes their agenda crystal clear: They are laser-focused on using their power to control women’s bodies and lives. Their latest action encourages states to try to block access to care at Planned Parenthood and control where women can go for health care," " Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Without Planned Parenthood, many of our patients would lose access to health care altogether — either because there are no other providers in their community or because other clinics cannot serve all of our patients.
She continued, "The law is clear: It is illegal to bar women from seeking care at Planned Parenthood. Longstanding protections within Medicaid safeguard every person’s right to access care at their qualified provider of choice. "