- - Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What do Texas and California have in common when it comes to abortion? Both were a focus of action by the Trump administration in the first month of 2020. President Trump’s historic appearance at the March for Life understandably received far greater media coverage. Now that the dust on the National Mall has settled, two significant policy victories should not be overlooked.

On Jan. 22, the 47th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that imposed abortion on demand across the nation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) granted the state of Texas a Medicaid waiver to fund the Healthy Texas Women program, which serves women who earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. In 2011, the Texas legislature ended state family-planning funding for abortion businesses, including Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain.

When Texas lawmakers exercised their right to fund women’s health care without underwriting abortion businesses, retaliation was swift and far-ranging. The pro-abortion Obama administration could have approved a similar waiver to continue funding for Texas’ Medicaid family-planning program with the policy favoring childbirth over abortion; instead the administration yanked federal support. Gov. Rick Perry pledged to fully fund the program using state dollars.

Meanwhile, abortion advocates and their media allies launched a smear campaign against the Lone Star State that would get national traction. Charlotte Lozier Institute scholar Michael New has doggedly chronicled the abortion lobby’s misleading efforts to conjure up a public health crisis in Texas, including claims of “significant increases in unintended pregnancies, teen births and the maternal mortality rate.” Even after The Washington Post’s fact checker debunked a key part of this false narrative last year, the correction received far less coverage and the pro-abortion talking point that pro-life laws harm mothers continues to circulate.

The Trump administration’s decision to reverse the policy of the Obama years and grant Texas a waiver is long-awaited vindication — especially in light of Planned Parenthood’s annual report, which reveals massive increases in both abortions and taxpayer funding at the same time total patients, cancer screening and prevention services, breast exams, pap tests, and even contraceptive services have all steeply declined. The Texas waiver restores approximately $350 million a year to fund authentic health care options for women and families – not abortion. This major victory will likely need to be defended in court. However, it already has solid public support with six in 10 Americans opposed to taxpayer-funded abortion.



While Texas lawmakers were busy disentangling taxpayers from the abortion industry, California was headed in the extreme opposite direction.

In 2014 California’s Department of Managed Health Care ruled that all state-regulated insurance — even for churches and nuns — must fund abortion on demand in health care plans. Once again, the Obama administration sided with the abortion lobby, refusing to enforce long-standing federal law that explicitly protects against this type of discrimination.

The relevant law, known as the Weldon Amendment, has been part of appropriations bills since 2005. It states that federal taxpayer funds cannot be made available to states that subject a health care entity to discrimination on the basis that they do not provide coverage for abortion. Crucially, the text specifically includes health plans and does not require a reason — religious, moral, or otherwise — for declining to cover abortion.

In a radical step, the Obama administration unilaterally reinterpreted and refused to enforce the Weldon Amendment, allowing California to get away with this outrageous violation of the law on its face. Thankfully, there is a new pro-life president in charge. In a win for conscience rights, on the morning of the March for Life the HHS announced it will take action against California for violating the law.

Mr. Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar deserve our thanks and credit for these lifesaving accomplishments — the latest in a long line of pro-life victories under this administration. Mr. Trump has delivered on his promises to the American people and more, governing as the most pro-life president in history. Now, as he puts the cause of unborn children and their mothers at the center of his reelection campaign, the Susan B. Anthony List’s ground team will make at least 4 million visits to voters to help deliver victory in November. What we do in the coming months will determine life or death for generations. This is a battle no one can afford to sit out.

• Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. She serves as national co-chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump.

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