Rea­gan-era rule to be res­ur­rected, source says

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NATION - By Jill Colvin and Ri­cardo Alonso-Zal­divar Jill Colvin and Ri­cardo Alonso-Zal­divar are As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers.

WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will res­ur­rect a Rea­gan­era rule that would ban fed­er­ally funded fam­ily plan­ning clin­ics from dis­cussing abor­tion with women, or shar­ing space with abor­tion providers, a se­nior White House of­fi­cial said Thurs­day.

The Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices will an­nounce its pro­posal Fri­day, the of­fi­cial said on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the per­son was not au­tho­rized to con­firm the plans be­fore the an­nounce­ment.

The pol­icy has been de­rided as a “gag rule” by abor­tion rights sup­port­ers and med­i­cal groups, and it is likely to trig­ger law­suits that could keep it from tak­ing ef­fect. How­ever, it’s guar­an­teed to gal­va­nize ac­tivists on both sides of the abor­tion de­bate ahead of the con­gres­sional midterm elec­tions.

The Rea­gan-era rule never went into ef­fect as writ­ten, although the Supreme Court ruled that it was an ap­pro­pri­ate use of ex­ec­u­tive power. The pol­icy was re­scinded un­der Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, and a new rule went into ef­fect that re­quired “nondi­rec­tive” coun­sel­ing to in­clude a range of op­tions for women.

Abor­tion is a le­gal med­i­cal pro­ce­dure. Doc­tors’ groups and abor­tion rights sup­port­ers say a ban on coun­sel­ing women tres­passes on the doc­tor-pa­tient re­la­tion­ship. They point out that fed­eral fam­ily plan­ning funds can­not be cur­rently used to pay for abor­tion pro­ce­dures.

Abor­tion op­po­nents say a tax­payer-funded fam­ily plan­ning pro­gram should have no con­nec­tion what­so­ever to abor­tion.

“The no­tion that you would with­hold in­for­ma­tion from a pa­tient does not up­hold or pre­serve their dig­nity,” said Jes­sica Mar­cella of the Na­tional Fam­ily Plan­ning & Re­pro­duc­tive Health As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents fam­ily plan­ning clin­ics. “I can­not imag­ine a scenario in which pub­lic health groups would al­low this ef­fort to go un­chal­lenged.”

She said re­quir­ing fam­ily plan­ning clin­ics to be phys­i­cally sep­a­rate from fa­cil­i­ties in which abor­tion is pro­vided would dis­rupt ser­vices for women across the coun­try.

But Kris­tan Hawkins of Stu­dents for Life of Amer­ica said, “Abor­tion is not health care or birth con­trol, and many women want nat­u­ral health care choices, rather than hor­mone-in­duced changes.”

Abor­tion op­po­nents al­lege that the fed­eral fam­ily plan­ning pro­gram in ef­fect cross-sub­si­dizes abor­tion ser­vices pro­vided by Planned Par­ent­hood, whose clin­ics are also ma­jor re­cip­i­ents of grants for fam­ily plan­ning and ba­sic pre­ven­tive care. Hawkins’ group is cir­cu­lat­ing a pe­ti­tion to urge law­mak­ers in Congress to sup­port the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pro­posal.

Known as Ti­tle X, the na­tion’s fam­ily-plan­ning pro­gram serves about 4 mil­lion women a year through clin­ics, at a cost to tax­pay­ers of about $260 mil­lion.

Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ics also qual­ify for Ti­tle X grants, but they must keep the fam­i­ly­plan­ning money sep­a­rate from funds used to pay for abor­tions. The Re­pub­li­can-led Congress has un­suc­cess­fully tried to deny fed­eral funds to Planned Par­ent­hood, and the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has vowed to reli­gious and so­cial con­ser­va­tives that it would keep up the ef­fort.

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