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Trump to bar abortion referrals by family planning clinics

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the new rule a "gag on health care providers."
Planned Parenthood Rally in Los Angeles
Supporters of Planned Parenthood gather in Los Angeles to call on Congress not to ban people on Medicaid from receiving care at Planned Parenthood health centers on June 21, 2017.Ronen Tivony / NurPhoto via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says it will prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, a move certain to be challenged in court by abortion rights supporters.

The policy released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department pleased religious conservatives, a key building block of President Donald Trump's political base.

The administration plan would also prohibit family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers.

Planned Parenthood has said the administration appears to be targeting them.

The final regulation was published Friday on an HHS website. It's not official until it appears in the Federal Register and the department said there could be "minor editorial changes."

Known as Title X, the family-planning program serves about 4 million women annually, costing taxpayers about $260 million.

New York Attorney General Tish James called the new rules "dangerous and unnecessary" and said the state will fight the move.

"The Trump Administration just enacted baseless regulations pushing an anti-choice political agenda on families who rely on Title X for access to critical family planning & health services," James said on Twitter. "These new rules are dangerous & unnecessary. New York will not stand by as this administration puts New Yorkers' & millions of Americans at risk. We will take legal action."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also said he was prepared to challenge the administration's move.

"We stand ready to take any and all legal action to protect women’s health and rights," Becerra said.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement that the rule aimed to "further undermine a woman's constitutionally protected right to safe, legal abortion."

"Under this rule the doctors and providers who millions of women trust — disproportionately women of color and women who rely on clinics for affordable care — will be blocked from offering them the full range of medically sound reproductive health options because politicians in the White House think they know better," Murray said. "Well, my message is that extreme Republicans absolutely do not know better than women about women’s health care, and we are going to make sure we are heard.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the rule a "gag on health providers that strongly hinders their ability to work with women to determine the best health care decision."

"It imposes radical Republican views on American women by strategically putting obstacles in the way of accessing the health care they deserve," he said.