House Votes to Overturn Obama Abortion Funding Ruling

“We are hopeful this bill is a step towards ultimately defunding the nation's abortion giant.”

U.S. Capitol (Pixabay)
U.S. Capitol (Pixabay) (photo: Screenshot)

In a dramatic pro-life victory, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to allow states to decide whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers with federal dollars. The 229-188 vote effectively repeals an Obama administration rule from December.

“As a registered nurse, I know that vulnerable women seeking true comprehensive care deserve better than abortion-centric facilities like Planned Parenthood,” Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), who introduced the resolution, stated before its Feb. 16 passage.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule in December that states cannot deny federal Title X family planning grants to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood simply because they perform abortions.

States could deny funding only to clinics that did not provide the services for which Title X funds are meant, according to the Obama administration ruling. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, called the rule a “parting gift to the abortion industry.” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the Obama HHS regulation a "backdoor handout for the abortion industry."

While federal dollars cannot directly fund abortions, pro-life leaders insist that taxpayer dollars going to the nation’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood have freed up resources for them to perform more abortions all along.

Black introduced H.J.Res. 43 to repeal the rule, under the Congressional Review Act. The move comes as pro-life groups are reporting poor care and abuses at Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide, from affiliates using taxpayer funds for abortion-related services to many clinics not providing prenatal care to clinics setting monthly quotas for abortions or abortion referrals. Numerous Planned Parenthood facilities have had ambulances pulling up to their doors to take young female patients to the hospital.

On Feb. 14, Planned Parenthood sent an email to supporters warning that if the House voted to overturn Obama's HHS rule, it would be a "devastating attack" for them. It will "embolden extremist politicians to block" funding to "a health center just because that center also provides safe, legal abortion," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards wrote.

“Planned Parenthood which, according to their latest annual report, performed 323,999 abortions in a single year, does not need or deserve taxpayer dollars,” Dannenfelser insisted. “We look forward to swift passage of this resolution in the Senate so that it can receive President Trump’s signature,” she said.

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie of The Catholic Association commented: “We applaud the House for voting to rescind a last minute Obama Administration regulation that allows states to take their tax payers’ hard-earned dollars away from the severely limited Planned Parenthood abortion centers and redirect them to comprehensive health care clinics ... Passing this resolution lets states fund the health clinics that are true lifelines for poor women.”

Black claimed that states were for decades allowed to pick which health providers they thought were best to receive Title X funds, and that the Obama administration’s rule set “unprecedented new parameters” on states’ use of the funds.

In Tennessee, her home state, Title X funds weren't cut but were directed to county health departments and community health centers. "We thank Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) for leading this measure to restore states’ freedom in choosing Title X providers," Christie stated. "The Obama Administration’s ruling defies states’ right to choose Title X providers, including the ability to exclude abortion providers like Planned Parenthood."

States are not cutting health grants, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, insisted, but are redirecting the funds “to other health clinics that provide women’s health care and don’t engage in abortion.”

The Obama administration, along with pro-abortion groups, claimed that the states’ actions against Planned Parenthood and other clinics would lead to “limitations in the geographic distribution of services and decreased access to services.”

But it's clear that genuine women's health service will not be cut, and in many cases will actually be augmented.

“Prior to the Obama rule, 5 states had chosen to award their Title X funds to non-Planned Parenthood entities,” Smith said. “These five states – Tennessee, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Ohio – account for nearly $16 million in annual Title X funding and serve over 279,000 individuals a year.”

“While this is merely taking back the small parting gift that President Obama left Planned Parenthood, the real prize is getting the reconciliation bill passed by both houses and signed by President Trump,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “We are hopeful this bill is a step towards ultimately defunding the nation's abortion giant.”

"New videos investigating Planned Parenthood show why today’s House vote on H.J. Res. 43 is an important victory for states’ rights to spend taxpayer dollars on community health centers that provide comprehensive care, rather than channeling money to the nation’s largest chain of abortion clinics," said the Catholic Association's senior policy adviser Maureen Ferguson. Ferguson noted that many states didn't want to fund Planned Parenthood after undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress showed it profiting from the sale of aborted baby body parts. 

“Many states rushed to redirect taxpayer dollars to community health clinics that actually offer complete prenatal care, mammograms, and other services not offered at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, and outnumber them 20 to 1," she said. "The Obama Administration issued regulations prohibiting states from doing so, and today’s action in the House would rescind those regulations.”

“Obama’s legacy of forcing Americans to finance the abortion industry is being steadily dismantled by our new pro-life President and the pro-life Congress," said Dannenfelser. "We look forward to swift passage of this resolution in the Senate so that it can receive President Trump’s signature.”

“Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every two minutes," said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). "Why are U.S. taxpayers giving half a billion dollars each year to Planned Parenthood?”