(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will pause its enforcement of a new rule barring federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, the Washington Post reported late on Saturday.
The rule had been announced last Monday, when officials said it would take immediate effect. The reversal was announced on Saturday evening by U.S. Health and Human Services Department officials, who informed clinics that they would now have two months to comply before facing penalties, the Post reported.
Trump, who says he opposes abortions in most cases, has joined many of his fellow Republicans in seeking to curtail access to legal abortions. Many doctors and rights groups are fighting these efforts as harmful to women’s health and in breach of a constitutional right to abortion.
A federal appeals court cleared the way for the move earlier this year, ruling that the administration could cut off Title X subsidies of reproductive healthcare and family planning costs for low-income women at clinics that refer patients to abortion providers.
The rule was intended to help Trump fulfill his 2016 campaign pledge to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, a non-profit group that runs about 600 healthcare clinics around the country and receives an estimated one-fifth of all Title X funds.
Planned Parenthood has condemned the rule, saying it silences doctors and nurses and would harm their patients’ health.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said this week that his state would defy the rule by refusing all Title X funding from the federal government, replacing those funds with state money.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)