President Trump built on his rapidly-developing legacy of rolling back U.S. federal support for abortion on Thursday, signing a bill that invalidates an executive order his predecessor rolled out in the last moments of his presidency.
Trump signed into law an express provision allowing states to strip Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics of family planning money under Title X.
In the final days of his administration, President Obama developed a new rule that made it nearly impossible for state legislators to withhold federal family planning funds from any group that provides services related to pregnancy care, contraception, or STDs, regardless of whether or not they provided abortions.
In March the Senate used Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote and overturn the rule.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said that it was an important step forward when it came to restoring reason to the federal agenda.
“Taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion, plain and simple,” Ryan said. “We remain united and steadfast in our commitment to life and religious liberty.”
Signing the bill was one of several proactive measures the president has taken on the issue of abortion. Shortly after taking office, he signed an executive order blocking U.S. funding from going to any foreign private organization that recommends or supports abortion services.
Conservatives like Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said the Trump administration and Congress were wise to tackle this issue head-on.
“Prioritizing funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive health care alternatives is a winning issue,” said Dannenfelser. “We expect to see Congress continue its efforts to redirect additional taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood through pro-life health care reform after the spring recess.”
It remains to be seen if Republicans can actually pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood directly; few in Congress seem willing to risk a government shutdown over it, and that’s probably the only way they can get that kind of legislation past the Democrats. But even if that day is still a ways in the future, the steps they’ve taken so far this year prove they’re actually committed to making progress on abortion. That is music to the ears of pro-life activists, who have grown increasingly frustrated with the party’s inability to take action.
But that’s the Trump effect. We finally have a Republican president willing to do what he said he was going to do. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s always be ABLE to do what he promised, but it’s remarkably refreshing just to have a president willing to try.