Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking his fight with President Donald Trump to the municipal hospital system.
The Trump administration issued a rule in February barring clinics that accept the federal dollars from terminating pregnancies in the same locations where they offer other services. It also forbids them to refer patients to abortion providers—though, contrary to what de Blasio claimed, they may still discuss the practice with their patients.
The mayor's news conference came almost a week after a federal court slapped down the city's lawsuit against the provision; de Blasio was busy earlier in the week campaigning for president in other states and preparing for Wednesday's presidential debate, his first.
Standing inside Bellevue hospital in Manhattan, he slammed the president's policy as "nefarious," "cynical" and part of a larger effort to restrict abortion access nationwide.
"We're here today because the war against reproductive freedom has come to our hospitals," said de Blasio. "The Trump administration's ... gag rule has effectively called for the censoring of our doctors and our nurses."
Under the directive issued last week, the city will not seek the normal federal reimbursements available under the Title X program. Herminia Palacio, the outgoing deputy mayor for health and human services, promised there would be no interruption in treatment.
"Your physicians, your nurses, your clinicians will be giving you honest, complete, accurate, factually based, scientifically grounded medical-care advice about what you need," Palacio said. "What reproductive healthcare you need, the choice you have to decide when or if you have a child. To all of our patients, nothing changes."
The mayor suggested the city would ensure private medical centers, which usually receive almost $7 million annually in Title X restitution, "are made whole as well" if state funding falls short. The state established a contingency fund for that purpose in this year's budget.
"We have to keep those nonprofit organizations going. We have to make sure they can provide the services that they provide," de Blasio said. "We hope that the state funding will do it. If there's any other needs, we will address it."
The mayor insisted that Friday's announcement, and its scheduling on the heels of the first two presidential debates, had nothing to do with his campaign for the White House.
"I've had press conferences on topics of every sort, long before I was running for president, where I had to inform people what was happening," de Blasio replied to a question from Crain's. "It's a nice try, but it doesn't hold water."
"NYC hospitals to reject federal funding over abortion 'gag rule' " originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.