Today, President Donald Trump signed a bill that allows states and local governments to block federal funding from groups like Planned Parenthood that provide family planning services—regardless of whether these groups provide abortions.
The Senate voted on the bill in late March, and in a rare tiebreaker situation, Vice President Mike Pence cast the final vote to support the bill and send the legislation to President Trump's desk.
The bill will dismiss a rule put in place by President Obama that requires state and local governments to allocate federal funds to qualified health providers that render family planning services (like contraception, STIs, fertility, pregnancy care, and cancer screenings). Some, but not all, of these providers offer abortion services. Obama had issued the rule in his final days as president—sending it into effect only two days before Trump was inaugurated.
ICYMI, this movement by the Trump administration was a looming possibility. President Trump (who's anti–Planned Parenthood) promised to defund the organization immediately after taking office. Plus, the Senate—currently split 52–48 with a Republican majority—voted against keeping birth control free earlier this year. And VP Pence made a statement at the March for Life demonstration in January, pledging to keep taxpayer dollars from aiding abortion providers.
But when the GOP pulled their new health care bill, the American Health Care Act, just before it went to vote, Planned Parenthood supporters and advocates of free birth control had a sigh of relief—until late March, when Pence broke the tie on this bill.
There's something interesting about the Senate vote, though. Every single Democrat voted against the bill, and every Republican, with the exception of two women, voted for it. FYI, there are currently only 21 women in the U.S. Senate. Sixteen are Democrats and five are Republicans. Of those five Republican senators, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska both voted against the bill, meaning only three women voted for the anti–Planned Parenthood bill.
While Planned Parenthood has services available to all genders and sexualities, this legislation specifically targets abortion—which, in nature—only affects female bodies. There's something inherently wrong with a bill that almost exclusively has repercussions for women only getting about 14 percent support from the population it will be affecting. Just let that simmer for a sec.
If this news makes you want to run to Canada, well, there's good news: Their Prime Minister totally supports women's rights.