President Donald Trump wants to strike a deal with Planned Parenthood.
The White House, according to a Monday report from The New York Times, has proposed preserving federal funding for Planned Parenthood if the organization stops providing abortions — a proposition he floated many times on the campaign trail. In August 2015, he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “Maybe unless they stop with the abortions, we don’t do the funding for the stuff that we want.”
In a statement to the Times, the president confirmed that the discussions surrounding Planned Parenthood did, indeed, take place:
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.
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.
However, the idea was swiftly rejected by officials at Planned Parenthood, which benefits from approximately $500 million in federal payments every year. Federal law prohibits any of that money from being used for abortions, though it is worth noting that Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the country, performing nearly one-third of all abortions in the U.S., according to The Daily Signal.
“Let’s be clear, federal funds already do not pay for abortions,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Times in response to the White House’s idea. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept.”
Pro-lifers have often pointed out that money is a completely fungible item, meaning that funding provided to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion related reasons allows Planned Parenthood to free up money they would otherwise use for those purposes to provide abortions.
“Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable,” Laguens added.
And Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards was no fan of the proposal, either. Via Twitter, she said her organization is “proud to provide abortion” because it is “necessary” and “vital” to birth control.
Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion—a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings. https://t.co/TWGOcVjBJ4
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) March 6, 2017
We believe protecting the ability of women to determine our own futures is not only a Planned Parenthood value – it's an American value.
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) March 6, 2017
The tug-of-war game taking place inside the Trump team is nothing new. While Trump campaigned on being a pro-life president, his eldest daughter, Ivanka, is believed to have a more favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, given her advocacy for women’s issues, according to the Times.
And one of Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., said during a radio interview in 2012 that he favors abortion rights and isn’t sure why anyone would feel otherwise, The Daily Beast reported. “I don’t even understand how it’s a political issue. I don’t understand how there is one issue for voters for that,” he said at the time.
“I don’t understand how you can tell someone what they can or can’t do,” he continued. “I can’t buy into the abortion argument. I wish the Republicans would drop it as part of their platform.”
And during a GOP presidential debate in February 2016, Trump praised Planned Parenthood.
“Millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood,” he said at the time. “I would defund it because I’m pro-life, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.”
However, it is important to note that there are many misconceptions about the coverage Planned Parenthood provides. According to a 2015 fact-check report from The Washington Post, it is “highly misleading” to suggest Planned Parenthood “provides” mammograms.
From the Post:
When Democratic lawmakers or other supporters assert that Planned Parenthood “provides” mammograms, this is highly misleading language because it could be interpreted to mean that the group directly administers the X-rays. The group does not “provide” mammograms. Rather, the situation is similar to other clinics where patients are referred to a licensed facility that can provide biopsies, X-rays or other specialized services. It is slightly more accurate to say that women have “access” to mammograms via Planned Parenthood, though it’s still slippery language.
For that oft-repeated claim, the Post awarded three “Pinnochios” (out of four). Planned Parenthood does offer Pap tests and HPV tests, both of which screen for cervical cancer.