New law al­lows states to with­hold funds from Planned Par­ent­hood.

Op­po­nents: Law had no pub­lic com­ment pe­riod

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN ● Dave Boyer con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Pres­i­dent Trump signed into law the first ma­jor na­tional pro-life bill in more than a decade, free­ing states to with­hold fed­eral fam­ily plan­ning money from Planned Par­ent­hood and other clin­ics that also per­form abor­tions.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had is­sued a last-minute rule try­ing to pre­vent GOP-led states from dis­crim­i­nat­ing against abor­tion providers, in­sist­ing that all women’s health clin­ics be treated the same. But Repub­li­cans, aided by Mr. Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, have now erased that rule.

“This is a ma­jor pro-life vic­tory,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

While fed­eral tax­payer money is al­ready gen­er­ally pro­hib­ited from pay­ing for abor­tions, money can still be sent to abor­tion clin­ics as long as it goes to pay for other ser­vices.

In re­cent years, how­ever, more than a dozen states have moved to strip Planned Par­ent­hood of gov­ern­ment fund­ing as ques­tions arose about the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s op­er­a­tions. In par­tic­u­lar, law­mak­ers in Repub­li­can-led states were re­act­ing to a se­ries of un­der­cover videos that pur­ported to show Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cials ne­go­ti­at­ing the sale of body parts from aborted fe­tuses.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ob­jected, and moved late last year to tie states’ hands, prompt­ing Repub­li­cans on Capitol Hill to use the Con­gres­sional Re­view Act to over­turn the Obama rule.

Mr. Trump signed the bill be­hind closed doors. His spokesman said the pres­i­dent’s sig­na­ture was a way of restor­ing state flex­i­bil­ity.

“Our fed­eral sys­tem was set up to al­low states to ad­dress their own unique needs,” press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said. “The pres­i­dent has re­stored re­spect for states’ rights on this is­sue.”

But the de­bate on Capitol Hill cen­tered less on states’ rights and more on Planned Par­ent­hood, the coun­try’s largest abor­tion provider.

“Peo­ple are tired of mostly white, male politi­cians mak­ing de­ci­sions about our health care, rights or com­mu­ni­ties — with­out in­put,” the group’s ad­vo­cacy arm said Thurs­day.

It com­plained that the bill passed with­out any hear­ings, and “with­out a ma­jor­ity.”

That was ap­par­ently a ref­er­ence to the Se­nate floor de­bate, where two Repub­li­cans joined Democrats in op­po­si­tion to the bill, leav­ing the cham­ber dead­locked 50-50. Mr. Pence cast the tie-break­ing vote.

The new law ap­plies to Ti­tle X fed­eral fam­ily plan­ning money, which was bud­geted for $300 mil­lion this year. Planned Par­ent­hood’s net­work of 661 clin­ics col­lects about a fifth of that money.

The bulk of Planned Par­ent­hood’s fund­ing comes from Med­i­caid re­im­burse­ments, which weren’t af­fected by the law.

Planned Par­ent­hood says most of its busi­ness is not tied to abor­tions, but rather to pro­vid­ing broader health ser­vices such as birth con­trol and can­cer screen­ings to women — ex­actly the ser­vices Ti­tle X money is meant to fund.

Democrats said that if abor­tion clin­ics are ex­cluded from Ti­tle X money, women won’t be able to get the care they need.

“This mea­sure is only the lat­est ef­fort in Repub­li­cans’ cru­sade against women’s health care,” said House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat. “From the White House to the Congress, Repub­li­cans are ob­sessed with ob­struct­ing women’s ac­cess to com­pre­hen­sive health care ser­vices.”

States that want to re­strict fund­ing counter that there are more than 10,000 qual­i­fied com­mu­nity health cen­ters, so strip­ping money from Planned Par­ent­hood won’t hurt women’s abil­ity to get care.

The Guttmacher In­sti­tute re­ported that in 2010, Planned Par­ent­hood af­fil­i­ates ac­counted for 13 per­cent of clin­ics re­ceiv­ing Ti­tle X money but served 37 per­cent of Ti­tle X clients.

Af­ter Mr. Trump’s sig­na­ture Thurs­day, Democrats vowed po­lit­i­cal ret­ri­bu­tion on the GOP for push­ing the new law.

“To­day guar­an­tees that a woman’s abil­ity to get life­sav­ing care, birth con­trol and make her own health care de­ci­sions will all be on the bal­lot in 2018,” Demo­cratic Se­na­to­rial Cam­paign Com­mit­tee spokes­woman Lau­ren Pas­salac­qua said.

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