Trump signs bill allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood

Today President Trump signed a bill which will allow states to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood and direct it to health providers that do not perform abortions. The bill reverses a rule the Obama administration issued late last year to protect funding for Planned Parenthood. From the Hill:

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, and Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, attended the bill signing.

“Prioritizing funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive health care alternatives is a winning issue,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.

“We expect to see Congress continue its efforts to redirect additional taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood through pro-life health care reform after the spring recess.”

Last September the Obama administration pushed through a rule which would prevent federal funds from being cut off to groups that perform abortions. From a December NY Times report:

Mindful of the clock ticking down to a Trump presidency, the Obama administration issued a final rule on Wednesday to bar states from withholding federal family-planning funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates and other health clinics that provide abortions. The measure takes effect two days before the Jan. 20 inauguration of Donald J. Trump.

As I noted at the time, there were only two ways to reverse the Obama administration rule. The first was to go through the lengthy process to issue a new rule. That would include soliciting public comment on the change. The other alternative was for Congress to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse it. Republicans chose the latter path.

Last month the Senate voted on the issue and all Democrats and two Republicans (Collins and Murkowski) voted against it. That meant the vote was a 50-50 tie and Vice President Mike Pence cast a vote in his role as President of the Senate to break the tie. When the vote was cast, Senator Joni Ernst praised the bill. “It should be the right of our states to allocate sub-grants under the Title X program in the way that best fits the needs of the people living there,” Ernst said according to a report in the NY Times. She added, “Unfortunately, like many other rules issued during the Obama administration, this rule attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states.”

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