President Donald Trump privately signed a bill today that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood, a group frequently targeted by Republicans.
The bill reverses an Obama-era regulation that prohibited states from withholding money from facilities that perform abortions, arguing that many of these facilities also provide other family planning and medical services.
The bulk of federal money Planned Parenthood receives goes toward preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests and other women’s health services. Federal law prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions and Planned Parenthood says 3 percent of the services it provides are abortions.
“Our federal system was set up to allow the states to address the unique needs of their own populations when possible, especially when to come to programs as important and sensitive as family planning,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today. “With the bill signing the president has restored respect to states’ rights on this particular issue.”
The move, which the usually camera-friendly President signed without any media present, marked the 12th time that President Trump has signed a resolution under the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) abolishing a rule issued under former President Barack Obama. Less than two hours later on Thursday, Trump signed a 13th measure abolishing a Labor Department regulation aimed at expanding retirement savings accounts.
The signing comes weeks after Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate after two Republicans opposed the measure.
“(Women’s) worst fears are now coming true. We are facing the worst political attack on women’s health in a generation as lawmakers have spent the past three months trading away women’s health and rights at every turn,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.