The Reagan administration yesterday released the final version of its tough new antiabortion regulations for the federal Family Planning Program.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association immediately announced that they will sue in federal court to block the regulations when they are published in the Federal Register on Tuesday.
"The new rules violate the legislative intent of Congress and rob low-income women of their right to be informed of a full range of personal and medical options before making a decision on how to handle an unintended pregnancy," National Family Planning executive director Scott R. Swirling said.
Existing rules forbid federally funded clinics to perform abortions.
Under the new regulations, mandated by President Reagan at the strong urging of antiabortion groups, a clinic funded by the program would also be forbidden to inform a woman that options for handling an unintended pregnancy include keeping the baby, offering it for adoption and abortion.
The clinic would be barred from referring the woman directly to an abortion facility outside the program even if she so requested.
Instead, the clinic would simply provide the woman with a list of outside facilities providing prenatal care. Such a list could include facilities performing abortions.
In addition, the new rules, made public yesterday by Health and Human Services Secretary Otis R. Bowen, would require an organization that runs a family planning clinic with federal support -- but performs abortion and abortion-related activities separately with its own funds -- to keep the Family Planning Act functions "physically and financially separate" from the abortion and abortion-related activities.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, praised the new rules and said they would force clinics funded by the $140 million-a-year program to stop "promoting abortion as a method of birth control."
Johnson has charged that by informing a woman that her options include abortion and by providing direct referrals, the federally funded family planning clinics serve as a "giant funnel" to abortion providers.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood said it "cannot and will not adhere to these regulations because they run counter to our fundamental principles, endanger the health of our patients and are, in essence, a call for mandatory malpractice. Because they dictate what can and cannot be said in the privacy of a doctor's office, they are an outrageous intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship."