Donald Trump has said he will continue funding Planned Parenthood if it stops providing abortions, prompting a swift rejection from the reproductive health organisation.
At one point during his presidential campaign, the anti-abortion businessman vowed to end federal funding for the non-profit, which makes up more than half of its $1.3 billion annual revenue through central government funding.
But no federal money is spent on abortion services, which only take up 3 per cent of Planned Parenthood's total budget, and the health service was quick to condemn the informal offer as a thinly veiled threat.
Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion—a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings. https://t.co/TWGOcVjBJ4— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) March 6, 2017
Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens told the New York Times: “Let’s be clear: Federal funds already do not pay for abortions.
"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.”
One in five American women has used Planned Parenthood, which also provides half a million breast exams and prevents half a million pregnancies each year. It has been estimated defunding the organisation would put the lives of 900,000 women at risk.
In a statement also released to the Times, Mr Trump confirmed his team had been in informal discussions with Planned Parenthood to offer them the deal.
He said: “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 nonabortion services such as cancer screenings.
"Polling shows the majority of Americans oppose public funding for abortion, even those who identify as pro-choice. There is an opportunity for organisations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.”
During the electoral campaign, Mr Trump was slightly more positive towards Planned Parenthood than some of his rivals.
In a February 2016 debate, the billionaire tycoon came under fire from also-ran candidate Marco Rubio for "defending Planned Parenthood", prompting him to respond: "Millions and millions of women – cervical cancer, breast cancer – are helped by Planned Parenthood.
"I would defund it because of the abortion factor, because I'm pro-life... But millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood. "
Rubio and other abortion hardliners like Ted Cruz made much of Trump's comment in 2000 that he "supports a woman's right to choose". But Trump's position has since altered dramatically, possibly in an attempt to win support from the deeply anti-abortion Republican base.Reuse content