Pro-life lawmakers want to fight abortion by restricting access to contraceptives
AS GOVERNOR of Indiana, Mike Pence introduced some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in America. So there was little doubt, when he was required to adjudicate the first abortion-related vote of the Trump presidency, which way he would choose. On March 30th Mr Pence exercised his vice-presidential prerogative by casting a rare tie-breaking vote in the Senate to let states deny federal grants to Planned Parenthood, the biggest provider of abortions in America.
Republican Congressmen had convened the vote under the little-used Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to roll back regulations issued in the dog-days of a previous administration. The rule Mr Pence and his Republican colleagues voted to scrap forbade states from refusing to distribute federal cash earmarked for family-planning under a programme known as “Title X” to clinics that perform abortions. It had been issued by Barack Obama’s administration in December after a dozen Republican-run states were reported to have been starving such clinics of cash. Many poor women were reported to have been denied family-planning services as a result.
Pro-life lawmakers now aim to “defund” Planned Parenthood of the $500m-odd it receives every year from Medicaid and Title X funding. They will have two opportunities to attempt this. First, via the omnibus spending bill that Congress must pass by April 28th to keep the government operational—a powerful faction of Republican right-wingers, known as the House Freedom Caucus, may make defunding Planned Parenthood a condition of its support for the bill. Or pro-lifers may try to insert an attack on Planned Parenthood in a tax bill expected later in the year.