As President Obama runs out the clock on the last months of his Administration, promulgating sweeping rules and acting by executive fiat wherever possible, perhaps he should use his pen and phone to make another unilateral move: putting Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on the White House payroll.
I am by no means a fan (watch our exchange from last year here), but as much control as she wields over this administration’s decisions, they might as well give her a title and some office space.
After all, on her watch President Obama became the first sitting President to address Planned Parenthood’s annual fundraising gala; closing his remarks by asking God’s blessing over the big-abortion enterprise – apparently not realizing the sad irony at any point in his remarks.
Last year, the White House praised Planned Parenthood’s “high ethical standard” even as it was implicated in the heinous trafficking of baby body parts. And more recently, we learned from Planned Parenthood’s own annual report that the organization saw an increase of $25 million in taxpayer funding, while the total number of medical services provided dropped by more than 10 percent during the same timeframe.
Now, in what may be Richards’ final act as shadow White House abortion czar, the Obama administration has quietly issued a proposed rule that would strip states of the right to steer federal dollars away from Planned Parenthood and towards more trusted community health centers that provide a broader range of services to women.
It is a transparently political ploy that, if enacted, promises to be a boon for the scandal-ridden abortion provider and a blow to the conscience rights of millions of pro-life American taxpayers.
First established in 1970, HHS administers a grant program known as “Title X” that provides funding to states for family planning services. In recent years, my home state of Tennessee adopted a system whereby these dollars would be doled out by the state to county health departments who would then determine appropriate subrecipients.
All 95 counties in my state have identified community health centers and other providers aside from Planned Parenthood who meet all applicable eligibility criteria to receive this funding, effectively cutting off Planned Parenthood’s access to Title X funds in Tennessee while protecting the needs of underserved women and families.
In recent years, other states have enacted or tried to enact similar measures. This proposed rule from HHS would undermine such state laws, dictating exactly how states must choose recipients for these grants.
You’d be right to ask – surely the administration has factual evidence from neutral sources to warrant such an action, right? But take a closer look: The HHS rule cites “research” from the Guttmacher Institute six different times throughout its 31 pages. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because Guttmacher was formerly an entity housed within Planned Parenthood Federation of America and is even named after a former Planned Parenthood President.
Don’t take my word for it, read the details on their website here. The Obama administration should be embarrassed by this attempt to pass off the work of a pro-abortion think-tank as nonpartisan research in an attempt to push its agenda.
I am working with Senator Joni Ernst to gather co-signers on a letter to the Obama administration expressing the deep concerns of Members of Congress regarding this government overreach, but we can’t stop there. We must use the full force of Congress and the grassroots strength of the national pro-life movement to defeat this rule.
We must also finally do the work of reforming our regulatory system to stop government bureaucracies from circumventing Congress to legislate in the form of a “rule.” That is why House Republicans’ recently unveiled “Better Way” agenda calls for giving Congress the power to take an up-or-down vote on rules lame-duck administrations try to force through on their way out the door.
The Obama administration’s actions to protect its political allies at Planned Parenthood are personally appalling, but they also point to the pro-life movement’s growing strength. The president used this backdoor maneuver because Congress and state legislatures across the country have held the line, voting to prioritize true women’s health over abortion and to provide funding to health care providers that will meet the needs of women and families while protecting the existence of our unborn.
As hearts and minds are reached with the truth about the brutality of abortion and Planned Parenthood’s disregard for the most innocent among us, laws will continue to change and lives will be saved – a last-ditch administrative edict notwithstanding.
Republican Diane Black represents Tennessee's 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees.