Obama's Planned Parenthood Measure Will Protect The Organization, But For How Long?
In a move consistent with his previous advocacy for women's reproductive rights, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he would move to prevent states from defunding Planned Parenthood. The new rule by the Obama administration prevents states from blocking Planned Parenthood funding from the federal government. The rule will also apply to other health providers, but its application to Planned Parenthood is perhaps the most relevant. After all, the organization is often the target of defunding efforts, generally due to the fact that it provides abortion services.
Even before the Obama administration's move, Planned Parenthood's public funds were not used for abortions, with a few exceptions for cases like rape and incest. However, anti-choice groups' opposition to any federal funding for Planned Parenthood and similar groups has grown in recent years, particularly after the release of heavily edited videos that claimed to show doctors boasting about selling parts from aborted fetuses.
According to the organization, the majority of services performed by Planned Parenthood do not include abortions. Its various clinics around the country function primarily as centers for STD testing, contraception services, and cancer screenings, which make up a combined 85 percent of all services rendered, according to the organization's website. These are the services for which the new rule will guarantee funding.
The new rule is one of many initiatives during Obama's presidency that particularly aims to help women's health. The Affordable Care Act prohibited charging women more for health insurance than men, for example, and guaranteed that contraception would be covered by private insurance providers.
However, Obama's action does not necessarily guarantee Planned Parenthood funding forever. President-elect Trump has promised to defund Planned Parenthood as long as it continues to provide abortion services (even if the government funding isn't going to said services).
Trump is also set to nominate Tom Price to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price is a staunch opponent of Obamacare and also has been involved in previous legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level. According to the New York Times, Price (assuming he is confirmed) could help repeal Obama's rule. Considering the Senate and House both have GOP majorities, there could be a joint resolution of disapproval.
While the new rule may not guarantee permanent funding for Planned Parenthood, then it seems that the Obama administration has successfully provided some safeguards, at least for the near future.