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 that 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) offer a wide range of preventive and holistic health care services.
Alliance Defending Freedom, Susan B. Anthony List, and Charlotte Lozier Institute had filed comments with HHS urging it not to enact the rule. The midnight rule had stopped states that had passed these public health care funding laws—including Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Ohio—from fully implementing them. Now, with the president’s approval, taxpayer dollars can again flow to where they are needed most.
The timing of the Senate vote comes a day after new undercover video evidence surfaced to remind us why Planned Parenthood doesn’t deserve public funding. In the new Center for Medical Progress video, Dr. DeShawn Taylor, former medical director of Planned Parenthood of Arizona and longtime abortionist at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, describes how to deliver intact babies in late-term abortions to harvest high-quality body parts.
Taylor displays an eager willingness to ignore Arizona and federal law, which requires that babies who are born alive during an abortion receive medical care in an effort to keep them from dying. When undercover investigators asked Taylor what measures were in place to assess whether the baby was alive, she responded, “[Y]ou need to pay attention to who’s in the room, right?”
This callous and utter disregard for the value of human life is reason enough to ensure that Planned Parenthood never gets another dime of taxpayer funding. But the latest video is not alone, of course.
In addition to the numerous other videos that the Center for Medical Progress released previously (videos confirmed to be unmanipulated and authentic by a respected forensic analysis and cybersecurity company), federal and state audits have revealed waste, abuse, and potential fraud that add ample additional reasons for states to keep money away from Planned Parenthood.
The Obama administration never took any of that information seriously, but clearly both the House and Senate have. Trump can rest assured that his signature on the new measure that the Senate just passed will be more than justified. It’s simply common sense that states should be allowed to prioritize taxpayer money in ways that best serve women, and with the president’s signature, that’s exactly what states will once again be free to do.