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President Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Trump signs bill allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed his first piece of pro-life legislation into law on April 13, overturning an eleventh-hour rule from the Obama administration to protect Planned Parenthood funding.

“This is a major pro-life victory,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “Taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion, plain and simple.”

Trump signed the Congressional Review Act, which blocks a last minute order President Barack Obama issued in the waning days of his presidency. The Obama order banned 13 conservative states from redirecting Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding to community health centers that do not offer abortion. This is the first piece of pro-life legislation Trump has signed into law and the first time the U.S. Senate has successfully passed a pro-life bill in more than eight years.

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., sponsored the new law in the House and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa., in the Senate. The Congressional Review Act grants Congress the ability to disapprove a new federal agency rule within 60 days of its passage, allowing Republicans to expedite the bill and avoid a Senate filibuster.

Title X grants, available for more than 40 years, allow the federal government to dole out money for organizations that provide family planning services. Through the program, the federal government can fund healthcare organizations directly or award grants to states, which choose the final recipients.

More conservative states started to redirect those grants away from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, in favor of pro-life caregivers. But Obama’s order prevented states from taking away Title X grants solely because a recipient provides abortions—helping to ensure funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates.

About 25 percent of all Title X grants currently go to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. In total, Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million in federal funds each year.

But the bill signed into law today gives states the option to take a least some of that money away.

“The resolution signed today simply ensures that states are not forced to fund an abortion business with taxpayer dollars,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List president. “Rather, states have the option to spend Title X money on comprehensive healthcare clinics that better serve women and girls.”

The resolution passed easily through the House in February but had more trouble in the Senate.

Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the upper chamber but had to call on Vice President Mike Pence to break a 50-50 split after two pro-choice Republicans voted against the bill.

Pro-life lawmakers applauded the Trump administration for helping ensure the resolution’s safe passage.

“By signing this legislation into law, President Trump is sending a strong message that the Trump administration is a bold defender of life,” Black said in a statement.

— by Evan Wilt

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