WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed legislation Thursday allowing states to withhold federal family planning dollars from clinics that provide abortion services, a move that effectively deprives Planned Parenthood and other groups of a significant source of funding.
The move marks the 12th time that Trump has signed a resolution under the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) abolishing a rule issued under President Barack Obama. Although most of these ceremonies have taken place before the cameras, this was closed to the press. The ceremony was attended by Seema Verma, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as prominent abortion opponents such as the leaders of the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America.
While congressional Republicans have overturned several Obama-era rules with ease under the CRA, which allows lawmakers to nullify regulations shortly after they are issued as long as the president agrees, the elimination of the Health and Human Services regulation was more controversial. Vice President Mike Pence had to cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate on March 30 to send the bill to the president.
Trump did not issue a statement Thursday, though the White House announced that he had signed the bill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., by contrast, called the measure “a major pro-life victory.”
“Taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion, plain and simple,” Ryan said in a statement. “We remain united and steadfast in our commitment to life and religious liberty.”
Abortion rights advocates, by contrast, said it would deny as many as 4 million Americans access to birth control and other family planning services.
“People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and this bill is just the latest example,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “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. 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.”