At a Feb. 10 Planned Parenthood rally, a supporter steps in front of an anti-abortion activist.
Recent news from upstate Louisiana and from Washington, D.C. suggests an ever-more fraught environment for abortion rights advocates and women who require abortion services.
Earlier this week, a short Associated Press report
seemed to confirm the closure of Bossier City Medical Suite, one of the state's four remaining clinics that provided abortion. A news release from the anti-abortion group Louisiana Right to Life cited public records indicating the return of the clinic's license to the Louisiana Department of Health; the clinic's phone number appears to have been disconnected.
Nationally, several major media outlets are reporting
that President Donald Trump has signed legislation permitting states to withhold federal family planning dollars (Title X funds) from outlets which also provide abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood. (Federal dollars themselves already cannot be used to pay for abortion services, so this new legislation restricts funds used for other aspects of women's reproductive health, like contraception and check-ups.)
Today's legislation overturns a regulation
enacted by then-president Barack Obama which prohibited states from withholding funds on anti-abortion grounds. It's able to be struck down due to an obscure congressional rule which allows regulations to be repealed within 60 days of enactment; recently the rule has been used
to reverse laws enacted in the final days of the Obama administration.
When it created the regulation in question, the Obama administration argued that outlets which offer abortion services often play a key role in other aspects of women's health care, such as helping prevent pregnancies and offering cancer and STI screenings. For Planned Parenthood specifically, just 3 percent of its services are related to abortion, according to a fact sheet
created by the organization.
But the Trump administration's opposition to abortion, even potentially at the expense of women's health care, seems clear.
Members of the media were not invited to today's signing, which took place on the afternoon before a holiday weekend — a combination which struck some as a way of diverting attention from legislation which is sure to be somewhat controversial. Planned Parenthood itself is wildly popular; a January Quinnipiac poll
found that 62 percent of Americans support its continued funding.
"Too many people face barriers to health care — especially young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes — for such blatant attacks on reproductive health," Planned Parenthood Action Fund wrote in a post
about today's legislation. "It's clear that we are facing the worst political attack on women’s health in a generation."