Away from the cameras, President Donald Trump quietly signed a bill Thursday that allows states to withhold federal funds from organizations that provide abortion services,a move cheered by conservatives who have clamored to impose curbs on reproductive rights.
This is not the end to federal funds for Planned Parenthood, as many Republicans have been calling for, but it is what experts characterize as a first step.
Stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funds has long been a prime goal of social conservatives, though federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or grave risk to the health of the mother. Nationally, the majority of American people including 48 percent of Trump supporters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood.
The measure nullifies a rule completed in the last days of the Obama administration that effectively barred state and local governments from withholding federal funding for family planning services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, fertility, pregnancy care, and breast and cervical cancer screening from qualified health providers — regardless of whether they also performed abortions. The new measure cleared Congress last month with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tiebreaking vote in the Senate.
The previous Department of Health and Human Services regulation, which took effect two days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration, said that states and localities could not withhold money from a provider for any reason other than an inability to provide family planning services.
Mr. Trump has shown ambivalence about Planned Parenthood, voicing support for its health-related services other than abortion, and his daughter Ivanka has urged him to tread carefully on the issue, concerned about the possible political repercussions of the Republican effort to defund the organization altogether. As a middle ground, Mr. Trump has proposed preserving federal funding for Planned Parenthood if it stops providing abortion services.
Amy a health worker said “Passing these health policies would take us backwards. Too many women still face barriers to health care, especially young women, women of color, those who live in rural area, and women with low incomes. Let’s be clear, this isn’t about the government paying for abortions, this is about paying for birth control and cancer screenings when the provider has some connection, even a remote one, to abortions. The truth is that these clinics do more to reduce abortion rates that any army of anti-abortion demonstrators. We need to get involved and help women to keep access to their health care.”
The organization has said it will never accept such a deal. And federal law already prohibits government funding for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, or to save a woman’s life.