It isn’t often that Congress moves a heavy burden off the backs of the states and allows them the freedom to be actual “laboratories of democracy.” Yet the Senate did just that Thursday in voting 51-50 (with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie) to invoke the Congressional Review Act to rescind an Obama administration rule that prohibited the states from defunding Planned Parenthood.
The rule blocked states from redirecting public health funding to other health care providers that better serve women’s health. But now the Senate has joined the House of Representatives, which passed the resolution earlier this year, and the measure heads to President Donald Trump’s desk, where his signature is expected.
Fifteen states have acted to defund Planned Parenthood and others who perform elective abortions in the last couple of years, reasoning that America’s largest purveyor of abortions (the organization is responsible for over one-third of a million abortions annually in recent years) doesn’t need taxpayer dollars to offer an elective procedure that most people recognize as the destruction of human life.
Public opposition notwithstanding, the Obama administration passed a “midnight rule” in December 2016 through the Department of Health and Human Services. It interpreted Title X, the federal family planning program, to prohibit states from redirecting health care dollars away from groups like Planned Parenthood and toward public health agencies that outnumber the abortion behemoth 20-to-1. And, unlike Planned Parenthood, these agencies offer a wide range of preventive and holistic health care services.
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