America’s founders conceived our nation on the principle that all people have the right to exercise their moral and religious convictions free from government coercion. President Donald Trump’s decision to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood through Title X, a federal grant program for family planning and related preventive health services, brings America back to that foundation.
Abortion takes the life of an innocent unborn human child, and countless Americans rightly have no interest in funding that deadly work.
The contrast with Trump’s predecessor is striking. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story once wrote that “Rights of conscience are, indeed, beyond the just reach of any human power. They are given by God, and cannot be encroached upon by human authority.” But that didn’t stop former President Barack Obama from trying.
Obama forced taxpayers to subsidize killing of the unborn by giving their money to abortion clinics. When Texas objected, Obama excluded us from Title X entirely, sacrificing vital health funding on the altar of his radical abortion agenda.
While numerous federal laws protect the millions of Americans who object to abortion by making it illegal for the federal government to discriminate against them based on that belief, it’s important to remember that Obama never was one to be particularly constrained by the rule of law.
However, Texas never has budged in its commitment to the sanctity of human life. Texas should be proud that no amount of federal bullying tactics was enough to make it compromise this fundamental conviction of Texas voters: Human life is sacred, no matter its stage of development.
Though the cost of that conviction was high, I sincerely believe that Texas’ resolve laid the groundwork for the victory Trump recently delivered. His proposed rule requires a real physical and financial separation between a family planning clinic and an institution that offers abortion, reflecting the reality that money is fungible once inside an organization.
Currently, abortion clinics can use the taxpayers’ money to pay all the costs of running the clinic, which frees up the clinic’s other money to provide more abortions. To put it bluntly, sending money to an abortion provider like Planned Parenthood is a bit like opening the barnyard gate for a fox and claiming you didn’t help him raid the henhouse.
This practice would end under the new rule, which will instead restore Title X’s intended distinction between family planning and abortion. It is a victory for both the unborn and for the rule of law.
Trump took an oath to protect the rights of the American people. Now, he is proving he’s not all hat and no cattle when it comes to protecting freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Abortion providers must now erect real safeguards to ensure that they are not using taxpayer dollars received through Title X to abort unborn babies.
No longer will taxpayers be required to subsidize the killing of unborn children. It is an encouraging sign that the government in Washington once again respects Texas’ sovereign right to safeguard the sanctity of human life.
More importantly, it is a victory for the right of every single American to abide by his or her own religious and moral convictions without being punished by the government.
Ken Paxton is attorney general of the state of Texas.