Congress hasn't been able to completely defund Planned Parenthood yet, but it just became a lot easier for states to keep money from women's health clinics. President Donald Trump signed a bill Thursday allowing states to withhold federal family planning funds from health care providers that perform abortions.
The Obama administration prohibited states from keeping Title X family planning money from Planned Parenthood and other clinics that perform abortions, and Congress used the Congressional Review Act (which allows laws from the last months of the previous administration to be undone with a simple majority) to reverse it. The House approved the bill in February, and the Senate passed the same measure two weeks ago, calling in Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie. Trump was always expected to sign it, but now that it's official, it could have a major effect on clinics in conservative states.
It was already illegal to use federal money for abortions (thanks to the Hyde Amendment), and states still can't legally keep Medicaid funding from abortion providers for services other than abortion. But, this bill will allow states to withhold additional money from the Title X family planning program and redirect it to clinics that don't offer abortions.
“Today, Congress is sending a resolution to President Trump ensuring that states are not forced to fund America’s abortion giant, Planned Parenthood, with Title X tax dollars,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion group, told The New York Times the day the Senate passed the bill.
Previously, 13 states kept Title X money from abortion providers, and Trump's signature gives them the green light to do so again.
Republicans tried to fully remove abortion providers' Medicaid funding in the healthcare flop attempting to replace the Affordable Care Act, and it probably won't be the last attempt. Since Medicaid reimbursements for abortion are already illegal, blocking all federal money would defund services such as contraception, STD checks, and cancer screenings.
Sen. Patty Murray doesn't think this is the end of financial attacks on abortion providers, and said on the Senate floor, "We should all be aware there is more headed our way. We are going to fight these efforts every step of the way."
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