Planned Parenthood was offered a deal by President Donald Trump: stop providing abortion services and you'll get your federal funding.
The organization said no.
Trump's offer, which was not made in a formal capacity, was reported on by several news organizations, including The New York Times, and not denied by the administration. Though the offer wasn't made public, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards responded publicly.
Currently, Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million dollars in federal funding, none of which goes towards abortion services. Private donations are used to fund them, as it's illegal for Planned Parenthood to use federal funding in such a capacity.
"Let's be clear: Federal funds already do not pay for abortions," Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told The New York Times. "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 nonnegotiable."
Still, in 2014, conservative news websites circulated reports that Planned Parenthood associates were negotiating fetal tissue prices from abortions, which they were selling for scientific research. Undercover footage that corroborated the claims was disseminated widely online. Planned Parenthood spokespersons said the videos were edited deceptively to make Planned Parenthood employees look cruel, and James O'Keefe — the man behind many of the recordings — had been caught sharing misleading footage before.
Despite the controversy, the White House's offer could signal its understanding that defunding Planned Parenthood would have significant political repercussions. About 7 in 10 Americans are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortions legal. On top of that, 1 in 5 women is said to have visited Planned Parenthood in their lifetime.
Some also believe it's a sign Ivanka Trump is pressuring her father not to appease his base by defunding Planned Parenthood. Many women (and men) use Planned Parenthood for low-cost contraceptives, cancer screenings, STD tests or family planning services. With the repeal of Obamacare in the works, low-income Americans, minority communities, LGBT people, and young women will be more reliant than ever on organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Threats to defund the organization also come at a time when the United States has a historic low teen pregnancy rate and 30-year-low in unintended pregnancies, which many experts credit to sexual education and the availability of contraceptives, both of which Planned Parenthood provides.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York said Trump's plan is to say he made an offer and Planned Parenthood refused, so the funding cut appears fair.
"The Trump administration needs to stop playing political games that would put access to the full range of safe reproductive care at risk, or they will get the fight of their lives," she told The New York Times.
Cover photo: Heidi Besen / Shutterstock