Trump Going After Planned Parenthood Says Way More About Republicans in Congress Than It Does About Him

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Back in August of 2015, Donald Trump granted an interview to the New York Times, and among other topics to come up was the defund Planned Parenthood movement growing amongst conservatives.

His response was, at the time, a warning flare for conservatives.

Trump: I would look at the individual things that they do, and maybe some of the things are good, and maybe, I know a lot of the things are bad. But certainly the abortion aspect of it should not be funded by government, absolutely.

CNN: So you would take a look at it before you’d defund it. That’s what’s being asked right now. Many in your party are doing the opposite. They’re saying defund it, and then look at it. You’re saying look at it first.

Trump: I would look at the good aspects of it. I’m sure they do some things properly and good and good for women. And I would look at that.

Even the devout, like Laura Ingraham, were alarmed.

It was just one of many things that made us at RedState at best hesitant and at worst repulsed by the idea of Trump as our nominee, much less our President.

However, deep in the back of our minds, we also knew something else: Even with the White House AND the House AND the Senate, the Republican Party would never go along with the idea of defunding Planned Parenthood. They had done everything in their power to avoid doing so up to that point, and in the months and years since have continued to do nothing.

They wouldn’t even pretend with symbolic votes.

Here we are in 2018, though, and Donald Trump actually looks like he’s taking the steps to begin the process after all. This bit of news also comes from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Clinics that provide abortions or even discuss the procedure with their patients would lose federal funding under a new Trump administration rule that takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood, according to two White House officials and other people briefed on the matter.

The rule, which is to be announced Friday, is a top priority of social conservatives and is the latest move by President Trump to impose curbs on abortion rights, in this case by withholding money from any facility that even raises the possibility of an abortion with patients.

The policy would be a return to one instituted in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan that required abortion services to have a “physical separation” and “separate personnel” from other family planning activities. It is often described as a domestic gag rule because it would also bar caregivers at facilities that receive family planning funds from providing any information to patients about an abortion or where to receive one.

Federal family planning laws already bar direct funding of organizations that use abortion as a family planning method. But conservative activists and Republican lawmakers have been pressing Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, to tighten the rules still further so that abortions could not occur — or be performed by the same staff — at locations that receive Title X federal family planning money.

And, while it is good to see we’re moving in the right direction, I have to admit that I don’t see this rule doing anything but stirring up a string of court debates that will end at the Supreme Court, if it survives that long.

What is interesting, however, is that there are states – California, in particular, comes to mind – that do the same thing in reverse. They withhold state money from religious family planning providers if they don’t mention abortion to their patients. Because, in places like California, a religion that sacrifices children for the glory of the State shall not have competitors who insist all life is sacred.

Abortion will be the hill Democrats choose to die on, and it’s a hill that Republicans are afraid to approach. That’s why this move from the Trump Administration, good though it may be, only serves in my mind to further shine a light on the cowardice of the Congressional GOP.

Say what you want about Trump, and Lord knows I have, the fact is he is doing this not because it’s his personal wish to do so, but because it’s what his voters want. Right or wrong, he is doing one of the things conservative voters in 2016 elected him to do. Since his inauguration, a Republican President has yet to receive a bill that has gone through the Republican House and the Republican Senate saying “Planned Parenthood gets no more federal funding.”

They have, despite years of yelling about Barack Obama’s executive actions, petitioned Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services to take executive action because they are simply too scared to do anything meaningful.

Now, when this rule gets challenged and beaten in the courts, which I suspect it will (at the lower levels), two things should happen. The first is that the states who impose the abortion mandate on religious providers should just copy word-for-word Planned Parenthood’s argument and submit that to state courts. The second is that the GOP should be ready with a bill that legally and Constitutionally does what Trump is trying to do here.

If the second one doesn’t happen, then it’s time for the GOP to go ahead and take that “Pro-Life” thing out of its platform, because they clearly don’t mean it.