Democratic governors are threatening to sue the Trump administration over a new proposal that will force Planned Parenthood to give up its federal grants in order to offer abortion and other family planning solutions under one roof. Washington Governor Jay Inslee called the new proposed policy reckless saying that if it’s passed as written, he and his fellow governors will have no choice but to explore legal options to ensure the proposal doesn’t harm women in their states.
13 members of the Democratic Governors Association have voiced their concerns over the proposal in a letter sent to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. The letter warned that Democratic voices opposing the proposal will be hard noting that governors are ready to match their words with action if needed.
Early in May, the White House announced that it will implement a set of new rules to govern the so-called “Title X” family planning funds. The rules are designed to make it harder for providers of abortion and related services to access federal grants. It’s illegal in the US already to use public funds to finance abortion. But Planned Parenthood is not interested only in abortion. The organization offers several reproductive health services for poor Americans. Even though abortions are performed in Planned Parenthood clinics, the money used in these procedures is private.
A lot of conservatives have applauded the move by the President to target Planned Parenthood with cuts in federal funding. However, abortion activists see this as an infringement on women’s rights and as something unconstitutional. They argue that the new proposal if passed will simply disadvantage many poor women around the country.
The letter written by the Democratic governors is imploring Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to abandon the proposal. However, they have made it clear that if their concerns are not taken seriously, they will seek legal action to stall or prevent the proposal from coming into full effect. The letter also observed that for many years there has been bipartisan collaboration by both parties on this matter. The proposal is threatening to undermine this.
In addition to this, Democratic governors argue that the new rules will simply take away women’s health care offered through trusted providers like Planned Parenthood. This, in essence, will eventually erode their ability to access comprehensive and medically accurate information about reproductive health and related services. The governors see the proposal as simply a “gag rule” that at the end of the day will pose major risks to the most vulnerable women in the country.
It’s not clear though if the White House will entertain any debate on the proposed legislation. Planned Parenthood has not been a popular name among conservatives in the US and the President will want to be seen as taking tough action against the organization. This is something his base will definitely appreciate and as we get closer to the midterms, it could be a small win for Trump and his supporters if the laws are enforced.