President erases Obama-era action to bar countries from blocking federal family-planning fund to healthcare organizations that perform abortions
Further chipping away at his predecessors legacy, Donald Trump has signed legislation that lets states deny federal family planning fund to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
Trumps action erases the standard rules, finalized shortly before Barack Obama left office in January, that told countries could not block the money. Its the most recent Obama regulation that Trump has overturned.
Undoing the prohibition also gives Republican and anti-abortion groups a victory after House Republicans failed to agree last month on a bill they had sought for years to overhaul the healthcare system. The failed House bill, which Trump supported, would have blocked federal money for Planned Parenthood for a year, in addition to repealing portions of Obamas 2010 health law.
Federal law already prohibits government money for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, or to save a womans life.
The rule rescinded by Trump involved country and local governments to distribute federal dollars for family planning services, including contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, fertility, pregnancy care and breast and cervical cancer screening, to qualified health providers, irrespective of whether the providers also performed abortions.
Republicans and abortion foes said the new statute will let countries divert fund now going to groups that perform abortions to organizations that do not.
Democrats and abortion rights advocates said it represented an attack on females.
Seema Verma, who oversees Medicare and Medicaid, said after Trump signed the bill in the Oval Office that the administration wants states to decide whats best for them and the people they serve.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B Anthony List, said the change will lead to better care for women and girls. She said the law simply ensures that states are not forced to fund an abortion business with taxpayer dollars. She said states will now have the option to expend federal family planning monies on comprehensive healthcare clinics.
Stephanie Schriock, president of Emilys List, which supports Democratic female candidates for public office who support abortion, said the bill is another example of politicians chipping away at women rights and stimulating it harder for the less fortunate to get healthcare.
We wont stand for it, Schriock said.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice-president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the administration should build on the progress thats been built instead of legislating public policies that take us backward.
The measure narrowly cleared the Senate in late March after Republican senator Johnny Isakson from Georgia, who had been absent while regaining from spinal surgery, returned to Washington to vote, bringing the tally to 50 -5 0 in the 100 -member chamber.
Vice-President Mike Pence, in his constitutional role as president of the Senate, cast the tie-breaking vote.
Read more: www.theguardian.com