Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and fellow pro-choice members of Congress shot back at the Trump administration's new proposal to strip federal funds from facilities that provide abortions or make abortion referrals, saying the plan shows "a callous disregard for the well-being of American women and families."
The proposal, sent by the Health and Human Services Department to the White House budget office, would affect not only favorite target of conservatives Planned Parenthood, but "would defund hundreds of independent clinics, as well—and those clinics have very few resources to stay open," as the Abortion Care Network noted.
In the statement released Friday by Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus chair Lee, as well as her co-chair Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), along with Democratic Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), Nita Lowey (N.Y.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Judy Chu (Calif.), Katherine Clark (Mass.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), and Jackie Speier (Calif.), the lawmkers said it showed the administration "will stop at nothing to undermine women's health."
"Make no mistake," they charged, "this proposed rule has one purpose: to limit women's access to care."
"From pushing an ideological abstinence-only agenda and denying low-income families access to contraceptives, to completely ignoring the rule of law and precedents established under Roe v. Wade—it's clear that this administration does not value Americans' rights to accurate health information, comprehensive healthcare, or if and when one chooses to have a family," they said.
Sharing the statement on social media, Rep. Lee said the development marked a "a code red" moment.
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This is a code red: the Trump-Pence admin is pursuing the most extreme effort to roll back women’s healthcare in decades. Gutting #TitleX is a blatant attempt to muzzle doctors & deny women their constitutional rights. My colleagues & I won’t stand for it. Read our statement pic.twitter.com/JiqeKGLhy9— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) May 18, 2018
As NBC News explained, federal law already
prohibits the use of competitive federal family-planning grant funds for abortion, but organizations like Planned Parenthood have traditionally used the federal money for other health services while using private money for abortions and related services—sometimes at the same facilities and with the same staff.
Based on a Reagan-era regulation and championed by abortion-rights opponents, the new rule would force entities that receive so-called Title X family-planning funding to maintain physical and financial separation between taxpayer-backed operations and any related facilities that perform abortions, support the procedures, or receive referrals about them, [an administration] official said.
The ability to have such physical separations between operations would obviously not be feasible to many providers.
The Abortion Care Network said, "Withholding #TitleX healthcare from entire communities in order to restrict abortion care is a ransom no patient, provider, or community should ever have to pay."