WASHINGTON — President Trump has signed into law a bill that overturns a rule issued by the Obama administration that bans states from defunding the abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood.
“On Thursday, April 13, 2017, the president signed into law H.J. Res. 43, which nullifies the Department of Health and Human Services rule prohibiting recipients of Title X grants for the provision of family planning services from excluding a subgrantee from participating for reasons other than its ability to provide Title X services,” the White House simply write in a brief press release on Thursday.
As previously reported, the resolution passed the Senate on March 30 after Vice President Mike Pence was called in to cast the deciding vote in the midst of a 50-50 tie. It cleared the House on Feb. 16 230-188, mostly along party lines.
“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with Title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients (81 Fed. Reg. 91852; December 19, 2016), and such rule shall have no force or effect,” H.J. Res. 43 simply reads.
Title X was enacted in 1970 under the Public Health Service Act and authorizes the Office of Population Affairs to oversee the disbursement of federal funds for the purpose of assisting organizations that offer “family planning” services. States distribute the capital to reproductive and women’s health organizations as they see fit.
In recent years, a number of states have sought to defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood after granting the organization funds for years, remarking that they do not wish to assist groups that provide abortion services, even if the funds will not be directly used for abortion.
But the Obama administration contended last year that stripping abortion facilities of funding results in undesired births. It also asserted that such locations are important because they provide contraceptives.
“Reducing access to Title X services has many adverse effects. Title X services have a dramatic effect on the number of unintended pregnancies and births in the United States,” HHS said in September. “For example, services provided by Title X-funded sites helped prevent an estimated 1 million unintended pregnancies in 2010 which would have resulted in an estimated 501,000 unplanned births.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) consequently drafted a rule—which it finalized in December—that amends the Code of Federal Regulations to read, “No recipient making subawards for the provision of services as part of its Title X project may prohibit an entity from participating for reasons unrelated to its ability to provide services effectively.”
But some lawmakers sought to overturn the rule, which they opined was crafted with bias and incorrect information.
“This edict was replete with statements that the Administration cannot back up,” sponsor Sen. Diane Black, R-Tenn., said. “For example, the rule stated that health care providers with a focus on reproductive health—for example Planned Parenthood—can ‘accomplish Title X programmatic objectives more effectively.’ This is demonstrably false.”
“According to Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood’s contraceptive services dropped by 18% over the last year,” she noted. “And their total number of services provided dropped by 11% even as their taxpayer funding increased by millions and their abortions continued at over 320,000 a year.”
As previously reported, according to the organization’s annual report, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions nationwide during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The figure accounts for at least one-third of all abortions nationwide, when compared to statistics released in November by the Centers for Disease Control.
As it has been in previous years, Planned Parenthood’s largest focus in 2014-2015 was sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), as it tested and/or treated over four million people for sexual ailments, with over 3.5 million tests and 32 thousand men and women being treated for ailments contracted through sexual activity.
Over 2.9 million people were provided with contraceptives or other forms of birth control in 2014—from temporary to permanent, including over 900 thousand emergency contraception kits. The figure is down from 3.5 million the year before, and 3.7 million in 2012.
Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms as it is not licensed to operate mammogram machines, and its annual report outlined that fewer than 700,000 women received services surrounding cervical cancer screenings (pap smears for women who have been sexually active), equating to just seven percent of its services, while STD testing and contraceptives accounted for 76 percent of its services, as opposed to women’s health.
Following word that Trump had signed the resolution nullifying the Obama administration’s order, Planned Parenthood blasted the move, asserting that the government was inflicting injury on women by allowing states to reallocate funds to community health centers instead.
“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,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “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.”
But Seema Verma, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters following the signing that “President Trump is delivering on his promise to give states the flexibility that they need to make healthcare decisions that best meet their citizens’ unique needs.”