After months of unpleasant suspense, President Donald Trump’s administration finally unveiled its replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act.
As expected, the bill includes a provision to strip all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit low-income healthcare provider helping millions that conservatives have rallied to defund for ages. Critics claim the clinics use taxpayer money to provide abortion services, which is not true. Federal funding is only used to provide the myriad other health services needed by low-income patients.
However, according to a latest report, Trump did offer Planned Parenthood a deal to keep its funding in exchange for something impossible. As The New York Times revealed, the president gave the organization an ultimatum: either lose federal funding or stop providing abortions.
Planned Parenthood, in good conscience, refused the Trumpian proposal.
“The White House proposal that Planned Parenthood stop providing abortion is the same demand opponents of women’s health have been pushing for decades, as a part of their long-standing effort to end women’s access to safe, legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. “We are glad that the White House understands that taking away the preventive care Planned Parenthood provides is deeply unpopular and would be a disaster for women’s health care.”
The organization’s stance on the matter was straightforward.
“Let’s be clear: Federal funds already do not pay for abortions,” said Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”
Meanwhile, in his usual fashion, Trump did not directly confirm the story. But, his statement to The New York Times leaves little to the imagination.
“As I said throughout the campaign, I am pro-life and I am deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of non-abortion services such as cancer screenings,” he commented. “Polling shows the majority of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, even those who identify as pro-choice. There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.”
It is pertinent to mention that Trump, who just called himself “pro-life,” has flip-flopped on the matter several times in the past.
In 1999, Trump appeared on an NBC interview where he defended his liberal position by explaining that he grew up in Manhattan, not Iowa.
“I’m very pro-choice,” the business mogul told host Tim Russert. “I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still — I just believe in choice.”
Then, during a 2016 town hall with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, then-Republican presidential hopeful asserted, “There has to be some form of punishment” for women who seek abortion.
On the other hand, Vice President Mike Pence is strictly pro-life.
As New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand aptly explained, this “art of the deal” style proposal was Trump’s attempt at following the conservative agenda while pretending he was ready to fund the organization had it been willing to negotiate.
“The Trump administration needs to stop playing political games that would put access to the full range of safe reproductive care at risk, or they will get the fight of their lives,” she remarked.
To put it simply, the president tried to bully Planned Parenthood into accepting his outrageous proposal — and when they said no, he did what he does best: ruin things.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Rick Wilking