President Donald Trump has offered Planned Parenthood continual federal funding if the group stops providing abortions. Its president spurned the proposal and noted that federal money already is not allowed to be used for abortion. On Monday, Trump confirmed that there had been discussions after The New York Times inquired about what it described as an informal proposal. In response to the newspaper, Trump said polling shows most Americans oppose public funding for abortion.
“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 said.
He added: “There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.”
The New York Times reported that, in private conversations, White House officials mentioned that there could even be an increase in federal funds if Planned Parenthood stopped work related to abortions.
Reportedly, there is an internal struggle amongst Republicans about how to approach the issue of abortion. During the primary, Trump mentioned what he sees as some of the positive work Planned Parenthood does.
“Millions and millions of women—cervical cancer, breast cancer—are helped by Planned Parenthood,” he said during a televised debate, according to the report. “I would defund it because I’m pro-life, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.
In a response to the report of the proposal, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards says the group “will always stand for women’s ability to make decisions about their health and lives, without interference from politicians.”
Planned Parenthood’s annual report shows that they had 2.5 million clients in 2015, which is down from 3.1 million in 2006. It appears to be high number, but it also means that 98 percent of women of reproductive age will never go to a Planned Parenthood in any given year for health care.
Diane Max, a big donor to Planned Parenthood, told The Times that the reported offer is an “absurd play.” Trump, she said, had been “sympathetic to a woman’s right to choose until it was politically unpopular” for him.
In one of his first acts as president, Trump banned US funding to international groups that perform abortions or even provide information about abortions.
Vice President Mike Pence also strongly opposes abortion, citing his Roman Catholic beliefs, and the newly confirmed health secretary, Tom Price, has supported cutting off taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood.