The Women’s Health Organization rejects significant financial support from the Trump Administration due to provision requiring the cease of all abortion services.
If you’ve seen the great cinematic film The God Father, then you probably remember the scene where Marlon Brando recites the infamous line “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse“.
Brando’s seemingly altruistic line is a perfect example of a “Throffer“. In the political arena, a Throffer is basically a proposal that combines an offer with a threat that will be carried out in the instance the offer is not accepted. Without any lack of irony or sarcastically benevolent intent , the Trump administration had recently made a similar type of proposition to Planned Parenthood. Earlier this week the White House confirmed a proposal from President Trump that included “significant financial support” of the women’s health organization if they agreed to stop providing the abortion services they currently offer to their clients. Although no taxpayer dollars actually go toward any of Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, the organization does currently receives $500 million in funds annually from the federal government for a large variation of health services.
In reference to the proposal, President Trump said that he is deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plans to significantly increase federal funding in support of non-abortion services such as cancer screening. He also mentioned that he is pro-life and that “there is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health while not providing abortion services”.
There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health while not providing abortion services.
Despite Trump’s “generous” proposal, and unlike Brando’s line in The God Father mentioned at the beginning of this article, Planned Parenthood could and did refuse Trump’s offer. Cecile Richards, the current president of Planned Parenthood, was swift in rejecting the administrations offer via Twitter, stating that the organization was proud to provide abortions and that “providing abortions is a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control and cancer screenings”.
This led to the country’s president on one side of the negotiation table with Planned Parenthood’s president on the other side with her counter-never, providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable. With both sides now steadfast in their decisions, the Trump administration and the Republican majority senate still technically holds most of the power that can determine Planned Parenthood’s fleeting future, offer accepted or not. This is the part where the “threat” of Trump’s “throffer” to Planned Parenthood comes in. While Trump’s proposal included a significant increase of federal investment into the organization (The Carrot), the backhand of this proposal involves complete defunding of Planned Parenthood’s current federal aid (The Stick) if the offer is not accepted. You may ask yourself “what could the government possibly do to Planned Parenthood that would threaten the security of the organization’s future?”.
Although Trump can not unilaterally defund the women’s health organization through a single executive order, the administration’s combined efforts with the conservative majority anti-abortion congressional group led by Paul Ryan introduced a new healthcare bill that’s provisions would have an immediate detrimental impact on Planned Parenthood’s operational future.
This bill is the “American Health Care Act“ and it is the federal government’s replacement of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The AHCA would prohibit all federal Medicaid money from going to any domestic health centers and clinics which offer abortions or abortion related services. Because Planned Parenthood is one of the leading organization’s offering these services in the country, this provision in the bill would take away the Medicaid federal funds already going to Planned Parenthood. This funding currently makes up approximately 75% of Planned Parenthood’s total annual federal funding according to a spokesman from Planned Parenthood. Despite this possibility being an interment threat to the organization, the bill does not stop its defunding attempts there.
This bill would also prohibit claiming federal tax credits on your healthcare plan if it covers abortion services, as well as taking away small businesses’ ability to legally claim tax credits if their employee healthcare plans include abortion coverage. Millions of American’s financially depend on claiming federal tax credits for their healthcare costs, and even more small businesses rely on taking these employee healthcare tax credits just to stay afloat financially.
So while these provisions do not call for directly defunding all of Planned Parenthood’s federal aid, it would be detrimental to Planned Parenthood’s ability to keep its doors open. While the 75% decrease in total federal funds may be enough to close the organization’s doors for good, the drastic change in insurance plans no longer able to cover abortions would take away Planned Parenthood’s revenue from billing health insurance plans for abortion related health services performed. Although there has been no economic impact study done by the group proposing these funding cuts and insurance coverage restrictions, Planned Parenthood released a statement in response to this section of the bill stating.
@SpeakerRyan’s health plan would kick 24 million people off coverage by 2026 & block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood…heartless & unacceptable
This puts Planned Parenthood in an extremely difficult position, especially considering the organization expressed it will not entertain the idea of removing these services from their centers and clinics. Since Planned Parenthood’s annual report lacks complete transparency specifically related to reporting revenues collected solely from abortion related services, it is near impossible to accurately determine how much money the organization would lose annual if they were to accept the Trump Administration’s proposition to cease all these services.
A spokeman for Planned Parenthood has said that the average cost of an abortion ranges from $500-$3500 depending on the details of each patient’s procedure. These details include 1) the state the procedure is performed, 2) duration of pregnancy, 3) medicaid/insurance coverage, and 4) whether or not the patient is eligible to be charged based on a low-income sliding scale. Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions in the 2014-2015 fiscal year alone, earning $1.286 Billion in total revenue. The total revenue the organization would lose by accepting Trump’s “no more abortions” offer would be somewhere inbetween $323.9 Million and $972.3 Millon annually (based on the two procedure averages given by the spokesperson and the organization’s official website respectively).
Whether you support or have strong opposition to government subsidization of Planned Parenthood’s services, it’s important to remember these new provisions by the federal government will indisputably restrict safe and affordable access to women wishing to exercise their constitutional right to have an abortion procedure performed. It’s also imperative for our current government leaders to recognize that although these new measures do not ban or prohibit the legal right to these procedures, removing the lions share of affordable & safe centers that currently provided these services (as well as forcing the hand of insurers to no longer cover the cost of the procedures) will lead to the same outcome for many Americans as if these procedures were not legally permitted to perform at all.
Politicians like President Trump and Paul Ryan may self-proclaim themselves as women’s health advocates as much as they please. But no matter what America’s government leader’s may say, advocation for women’s health irrefutably includes action from all gov. officials that protects, provides, and increases the availability of quality health resources available to American women that fall under their jurisdiction. While this does not mean government officials and policy makers have a responsibility to provide aid and access to abortions specifically, it does include ensuring that any and all health related services and resources which may be taken away from citizens is either protected or provided through an alternative route. So far, the new ACHA does not include any propositions to reduce the deficit of losing all other health services as a side effect of its abortion provider defunding provisions. The future action’s of America’s POTUS and other elected officials in relation to providing and protecting all other high quality resources (non-abortion care) available to American women will certainly determine if their claims of being women’s health advocates tests to be true.
Of course, being able to actually have these proposed funding cuts to take effect will be dependent on the ability to appeal Obamacare by passing the ACHA through congress. Until then, Planned Parenthood and organizations that receive federal aid like it will have a lot of decisions to make if they want to keep their doors open. The continuation of providing abortion services and resources for a large number of American women now lays in the hands of the women’s health organization’s ability to reach a compromise with the administration and other congressional leaders that support these legislative measures. Although Planned Parenthood has already expressed their explicit stance of providing all of their current services even under federal threat, president Trump has declared he would even move to establish a full government shutdown in order to successfully cease federal funds going towards these abortion providing organizations.5
Despite the presence of a massive country-wide opposition to defunding Planned Parenthood, the decision to cut off these funds lays in the hands of the newly elected president and his administration. While opposition coming from those such as Cecile Richards and other groups of protesters all across the country seems to be prevalent on around every corner. It’s important to remember that the American people (including ~30,332,406 million predominantly white middle-class women who’s average income/household income was $70,000 a year ) did elect their new POTUS fully aware of his plans to defund organization’s like Planned Parenthood as a large part his political agenda. We will just have to wait and see whether these new executive actions and efforts by our elected officials truly do or do not result in benefiting and increasing the general welfare of American women and the country as a whole.