Today, Donald Trump quietly signed legislation that rolls back Obama-era protections of Planned Parenthood. The bill, passed in late March by the Senate with the help of Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote, allows states to withhold federal family planning funds to centers that also provide abortions.
Prior to leaving office, former President Obama ensured that states could not withhold Title X funding from health centers simply because they provided abortions. The rule was meant to protect Planned Parenthood and similar organizations who, particularly after the heavily edited and misleading (and maybe illegal) videos released by David Daleiden, were being defunded by state legislatures. Under a procedural rule called the Congressional Review Act, within the first sixty days, Congress is allowed to bypass a Senate filibuster in order repeal any rule issued by the previous executive branch. It’s no surprise that Republicans, who have long clamored to take away the roughly $20 million Planned Parenthood received under Title X, seized the proverbial moment.
The bill signed today does not directly end Planned Parenthood’s funding. Instead, it gives states the ability to refuse to reimburse the organization from the Title X family grant program and/or Medicaid. It is already illegal to use federal funds for abortion, instead that money goes to everything from prenatal care, to contraception counseling, cancer screenings, and other health services for low-income women. Basically, low-income women in red states are about to lose access to one more health provider. According to Think Progress:
Experts also point out that if Planned Parenthood clinics are shuttered or restricted, there simply aren’t enough other clinics to meet demand for things like contraceptive care, which forms a large portion of Planned Parenthood’s operations.
Despite this, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), one of the bill’s original sponsorers, celebrated Trump’s signature. “The Obama administration’s rule emboldened abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, empowered federal bureaucrats, and silenced our states in the process,” Ernst said in a statement. “Today’s action restores states’ rights over a Washington-knows-best mentality.”
A handful of states are already considering bills to defund Planned Parenthood, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.