President Donald Trump signed a major anti-abortion bill Thursday that puts women's health clinics at risk of losing federal funding. It was essentially the reversal of a ruling the Obama administration slid in just before leaving the White House, giving back individual states the right to withhold federal funds from clinics that perform abortions. There are 13 states that will likely be the most affected by the new abortion measure.
With Trump's signature in place, states can now opt to keep federal money (from the Title X family-planning program) from clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, that perform abortion services. It's already illegal for federal money to pay for abortions, so this doesn't defund the procedure; rather, it removes funding for preventative family-planning services such as birth control.
Before the Obama ruling prohibited them from doing so, 13 states kept Title X money from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Those states — Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin — are likely to reenact similar restrictions on funding for women's health clinics, putting low-income women at risk of losing their health care access.
Created in 1970 and signed into law by President Nixon, Title X was intended to help low-income people receive family planning and preventative health care. According to Planned Parenthood, more than four million Americans rely on services paid for by Title X, and the birth control provided through the program helps prevent one million unintended pregnancies each year. Because preventing unintended pregnancies is cheaper than the alternative, Title X saves the government billions of dollars.
In a press release issued Thursday, Planned Parenthood made it clear that the bill doesn't defund the health organization, but said it could "embolden states to try to block access to health care through Title X, both at Planned Parenthood health centers and independent clinics."
In the same release, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: "People are sick and tired of politicians making it even harder for them to access health care, and this bill is just the latest example. Planned Parenthood strongly opposes President Trump’s willingness to undermine millions of women’s access to birth control through the Title X family planning program."
The bill won't immediately change anything, as it only gives individual states the freedom to determine who does and doesn't get Title X money, but it opens the door for states to continue their crusade against abortion providers. Expect to see family-planning restrictions pop up around the country, especially in the 13 states that have already passed them once.