Putting the Brakes on the Obama Administration’s Parting Gift to the Abortion Industry

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) • February 23, 2017

President Obama may no longer be in office, but his legacy of onerous federal rules and regulations – 3,853 of them last year alone – lives on.

Which is why over the past several weeks, we’ve been using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to take action on the explosion of Obama-era regulations that we’ve seen hurt families and destroy jobs all across the country.

Our work is historic: Up until now, only six of these bills ever made it to the President’s desk in 21 years — and only one was ever signed. By the end of last week, we passed 13 in three weeks, and President Trump will have signed two into law, with more to come.

I introduced one of the CRA resolutions, because among the former administration’s most troubling actions in its last days was a federal rule designed to prop up former President Obama’s allies in the abortion industry at the expense of states’ 10th Amendment rights.

The rule, finalized last December, centers on a program known as Title X – a federal grant administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for family planning purposes.

For the last 45 years, states have received these grants from the federal government and could determine how to best put their dollars to use.

In Tennessee, for example, our elected representatives resolved not to give this funding to clinics that take innocent life through the act of abortion, such as Planned Parenthood.

As a result, our state’s share of Title X funding is given exclusively to the Tennessee Department of Health, which then allocates funding to county health departments and other eligible providers that share a commitment to protecting our most vulnerable. The grants are put to use providing contraceptives, performing cancer screenings, and helping prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

With the Obama Administration’s eleventh-hour rule, however, states like Tennessee are now effectively forced to fund abortion providers – and no one can seem to tell us why.

The Obama Administration claimed in its rule that abortion-centered facilities like Planned Parenthood can “accomplish Title X programmatic objectives more effectively” but their claims don’t stand up to scrutiny.

According to HHS’s own 2015 Title X Family Planning Annual Report, Tennessee provided care under Title X to more than 75,000 citizens over the course of a single year  – that means we served even more individuals than more populated states like Michigan and Virginia.

What’s more, Planned Parenthood’s latest numbers reveal that their contraceptive services dropped by 18 percent over the last year, while newly released investigative videos show their employees denying women access to prenatal care.  What’s so “effective” about that?

Our state and local governments are closest to the people they serve and know better than any politician in Washington, D.C. how to care for their communities – after all, they live and work here and can see the needs that exist with their own eyes.

They deserve the right to fund the health care providers that best suit their needs, without fear of reprisal from a heavy-handed federal government.

That is why, just last week, the House took action by passing H.J. Res. 43, my resolution using the power of the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Obama Administration’s rule.  The resolution even garnered bipartisan support, despite a barrage of false attacks from some of my colleagues across the aisle.

With this resolution, we are empowering states to invest in women’s health care over abortion and to reallocate Title X dollars to other, more comprehensive providers such as community health centers, which outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by a margin of 20 to 1.

Now, the battle to protect states’ rights heads to the Senate, where another champion for life, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), is carrying companion legislation.

Even if Members of Congress cannot agree on the urgent need to protect our voiceless unborn, surely we can agree on the importance of upholding states’ rights to make that choice for themselves.

The Senate must follow the House’s lead and act quickly to restore this protection so that every state is empowered to care for the unique needs of their population the best way they know how.

Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District and serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee. She is a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and has been a nurse for more than 45 years.