Anti-abortion groups expect quick action from Trump

Anti-abortion groups expect quick action from Trump
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Anti-abortion groups are hoping President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE will start changing federal abortion policy on his first day in office. 

While there are big-ticket items on their wish list like filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court, there are also a range of abortion policy changes the Trump administration can make on its own. 

Those actions include removing ObamaCare's requirements for religious organizations to cover contraception in their insurance plans, easing the Obama administration rules that make it harder to cut funding from Planned Parenthood, and preventing foreign aid dollars from being used for abortions.

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The high expectations are a change from what's been a rocky relationship at times between Trump and abortion opponents.

Trump, who said he was “pro-choice in every respect” in 1999, before changing his views, had his commitment to the anti-abortion cause questioned during the presidential campaign. A group of anti-abortion leaders even wrote a letter during the Republican primaries urging people to vote for “anyone but Trump.”

Now, though, anti-abortion groups say they are more confident in his commitment to their cause. 

“We're very confident,” said Mallory Quigley, communications director for the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. “He really proved himself.”

Groups also pointed to his selections of strong abortion opponents, including Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) for secretary of Health and Human Services and Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE (R-Ala.) for attorney general, for prominent administration roles. 

Abortion rights groups, meanwhile, are sounding the alarm about actions Trump could take. 

“I think we need to watch everything the administration does with respect to women,” said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, vice president at the National Partnership for Women and Families. “[Trump’s] stacking the cabinet with really the most virulent opponents of abortion and women's health.”

High on anti-abortion group wish lists is the requirement under ObamaCare that insurance plans cover contraception at no cost to the patient. Some religious groups running schools or hospitals have objected to contraception being covered in their employees’ insurance plans, saying it violates their religious beliefs. 

An Obama administration “accommodation” meant to ease the burden on religious groups has been at the center of Supreme Court litigation, but abortion opponents say it does not go far enough. 

The groups say the Trump administration could change regulations to lift the contraceptive mandate from religious organizations, though opponents argue that would jeopardize contraceptive coverage for employees who might not share the same beliefs. 

Clarke Forsythe, acting president of Americans United for Life, said even if formally changing the regulations takes some time a Trump administration can make its views clear immediately.

“Nonenforcement can be announced day one,” he said.

The groups also want increased enforcement of “conscience protections” for religious organizations, which they say are being improperly forced to cover abortions in their insurance plans by states like California. 

Planned Parenthood has also long been at the center of these battles. Just last week, the Obama administration finalized a regulation making it harder for states to cut Planned Parenthood out of federal family-planning grants. The rule says organizations can’t be cut out unless they are unable to properly provide the necessary services. 

Anti-abortion groups, though, want Trump to roll back the regulation when he takes office, and also to make it easier for states to cut Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid funding. 

But Democrats are already putting pressure on Trump to keep the rule in place.

A group of Senate Democrats on Thursday wrote to him to implement the rule and protect funding for Planned Parenthood. They noted that Trump said this year that Planned Parenthood “has done very good work for millions of women.” 

The abortion fights extend overseas as well.

Anti-abortion groups hope Trump will reinstate what is known as the Mexico City Policy, preventing U.S. foreign aid dollars from going to organizations overseas that perform or promote abortions. The policy has flipped on and off in the past depending on whether a Democrat or Republican was in the White House. 

There is even more that Trump can do with the help of Congress. Abortion opponents are pushing for federal funds for Planned Parenthood to be cut off as part of a bill early in 2017 repealing ObamaCare. 

Trump also said in a letter in September that he was committed to signing a law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding from being used for abortions. 

Anti-abortion groups are aware Trump has an ambitious agenda that goes well beyond abortion. But the groups have big expectations and say they are ready to fight for their priorities.

“It will be a competition for limited time and resources to get these things done,” Forsythe said.