President Trump took another swipe at Obama-era policies, signing legislation that would allow states to deny federal family planning funds to Planned Parenthood, as well as other organizations that provide abortion services.
The move reverses a regulation put in place by former president Obama that prohibited states from withholding money from abortion-providing facilities. His argument was that the organizations also provided other vital health care services. The effect of the legislation also existed in Trump’s failed rollback of the Affordable Care Act, which would have blocked federal funding for Planned Parenthood for as long as a year.
The rule tossed out by Trump required state and local governments to distribute federal dollars for family planning services, including contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, fertility, pregnancy care and breast and cervical cancer screening, to qualified health providers, irrespective of whether the providers also performed abortions.
The measure narrowly cleared the Senate in late March after Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who had been absent while recovering from spinal surgery, returned to Washington to vote, bringing the tally to 50-50 in the 100-member chamber.
Republicans and abortion opponents said the new law will let states divert money now going to groups that perform abortions to organizations that do not.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, defended the signing of the act.
“This puts an end to the outgoing gift that Obama gave the Trump administration,” Dannenfelser said.
Pro-choice advocates reacted sharply and pledged to fight back against Trump’s measures.
“We should build on the tremendous progress made in this country with expanded access to birth control, instead of enacting policies that take us backward,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “Too many women still face barriers to health care, especially young women, women of color, those who live in rural areas, and women with low incomes.”
With Reporting by the Associated Press