March 7, 2017; ABC News
In a not-so-subtle political play, President Trump offered a deal to Planned Parenthood on Monday, following the release of details of the ACA replacement proposal that would defund the organization if it passed. The deal was, if Planned Parenthood would stop performing abortion services, the nonprofit could maintain its federal funding.
It is important to note that due to the Hyde Amendment, no federal funds can be used to pay for abortions. Republicans argue that federal funds going to Planned Parenthood for other services, such as cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted disease screenings, and more, free up the clinic’s unrestricted dollars to be used for abortions. However, the clinic indicates that patients—or, if they have a policy that allows it, private insurance—pay for abortion procedures. Thus, federal funds do not even get used for abortion services indirectly.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, says, “It’s important to understand that Planned Parenthood works like every hospital, every health care provider in this country. We get reimbursed for preventative health care, period, end of story.”
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What it really means to “defund” Planned Parenthood is that Medicaid would prevent its patients from going to Planned Parenthood (or, technically, any other organization receiving more than $350 million in Medicaid funding, should there be one), blocking women, and low-income women in particular, from access to reproductive health care. According to the Government Accountability Office, if Planned Parenthood is indeed defunded, 390,000 women would have no access to preventative care and access would be reduced for 650,000 within one year.
Given these numbers, President Trump’s political agenda becomes clear. Trump does not want to be the bad guy who denies millions of patients access to life-saving reproductive healthcare. At the same time, he does not want to lose favor among his own party by standing up for Planned Parenthood, although he has indicated on multiple occasions that he recognizes the work they do is important. By proposing the idea to Planned Parenthood, Trump passes blame from his administration to Planned Parenthood, since they attempted to be reasonable but Planned Parenthood rejected their generous offer.
What President Trump may fail to realize is that his offer calls on Planned Parenthood to change its mission and core values. In the nonprofit world, this is known as “mission drift,” wherein organizations change their mission to chase funding, and it is incontestably frowned upon. Planned Parenthood essentially had no choice but to reject the proposal, so the president’s deal was not truly a good-faith effort to help the clinic and its patients.
In a statement regarding the matter, Richards indicated that Planned Parenthood would not back down and would continue its commitment to providing the full scope of women’s health services. Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, offered a passionate response to Trump’s proposal that echoed Richard’s statement: “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 non-negotiable.”— Sheela Nimishakavi