Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 14
No. 8
December, 2020
 
Focus on the U.S.

Post-Election: Pro-Abortion Organizations Celebrating and Demanding


The US continues to await outcomes of state legal challenges filed by President Trump and his campaign charging election fraud and illegal voting which could affect the outcome of the election and results of the December 14 meeting of the 538 members of the Electoral College who cast the final votes for president and vice president.
 
However, abortion activists are busy celebrating what they believe will be a Biden-Harris administration that is completely committed to advancing abortion on demand domestically and globally as a so-called reproductive right and as a component of essential health care. They envision US funding for abortion domestically and internationally; increased access to abortion-inducing drugs; and reversal of the Trump administration’s strong pro-life stand at the United Nations. These of just a few of the actions in the pro-abortion NGO roadmap for the first days of a Biden administration— Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice. 
 
President Trump’s Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, previously known as the Mexico City Policy, is the #1 pro-abortion target internationally. Pro-abortion activists seek US funding to international organizations working in health and family planning that perform or promote abortion. IPPF, one of the global abortion industry giants, was one of the organizations denied US funds under this policy.
 
IPPF states that it “calls on President-elect Biden to keep to his word of signing an executive order on his first day in office to repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule aka the Mexico City Policy. Further to this, we are counting on the Biden administration to push for a permanent repeal to this policy…”.
 
The Center for Reproductive Rights also wants quick action to overturn President Trump’s pro-life policies which it considers to be “harmful”. It stated, “After inauguration on January 20, President Biden and his administration must move quickly to reverse the harmful policies of the Trump administration.” The first Executive Order it wants to see enacted is to “rescind the Global Gag Rule and the Domestic Gag Rule” [Hyde Amendment] and it hopes to see funding restored to two international entities that support abortion— the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
 
Another U.S.-based organization working to advance abortion globally, Ipas, also anticipates the overturing of President Trump’s international pro-life policies. Its election statement—US Election Outcome Offers Hope for Justice—seeks the elimination of unborn children in the womb and states,“With the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Ipas—along with our partners around the world—looks to a brighter future…Our commitment to our mission—to ensure that access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly abortion and contraception, is improved around the world—is stronger than ever…We are confident that the new U.S. leadership supports the belief that everyone should be able to make their own decisions about their health and their future—without harmful restrictions mandated by U.S. foreign policies, like the Global Gag Rule or the Helms Amendment…And, we will work to reshape the U.S. role in the world by advocating for the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act that will repeal the Helms Amendment, and usher in a new era of health rights for women around the world…”
 
Guttmacher issued a detailed list of policies it wants a Biden-Harris administration to overturn in the statement Reviving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Biden-Harris Era which focuses on domestic policies but also seeks the overturning of the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy. It calls on the Biden administration to “rejoin and restore funding to WHO, restore funding to UNFPA, and champion sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global stage.”
 
Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s statement—Finally! Seven Reasons to Celebrate the Biden-Harris Win- details domestic policies it wants to see overturned and includes: “We also expect the Biden White House to reverse the global gag rule, which bans overseas groups from getting U.S. funding if they provide or even mention abortion.” 
 
Three pro-abortion NGOs—Ipas, CHANGE, and Global Justice—will be having a virtual discussion on December 10 entitled: “A Feminist Vision for #SRHR & Justice in the Biden Administration” where the conversation will center on “setting a progressive, feminist agenda for SRHR in US foreign policy, and the need to go beyond just undoing the Trump admin’s harm.”
 
The UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng@drtlaleng  not only tweeted a call for Congress to overturn the pro-life policy but called for passage of the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act (Global HER Act) to permanently bar any future administrative actions from preventing U.S. funds to international organizations that perform or promote abortion: We are calling on Congress to #EndGlobalGag and pass the #GlobalHERAct! The U.N.’s top health expert also tweeted her hopes to celebrate passage of the HER Act in Washington: I can't wait to be back and that day, we will surely be dancing on The Hill because HER act will be passed.  

Record Number of Pro-Life Women Elected to U.S. Congress


The 2020 congressional election in the U.S. kept the Democratic Party in control of the House despite losses. The new House will have 222 Democrats to 210 Republicans with 2 seats still undecided; control of the Senate will be determined by a special run-off election for two Senate seats from Georgia on January 5.
 
The election resulted in an historic 18 new pro-life women elected to the House, joining 11 pro-life women who won re-election. The women are all Republicans with 10 defeating sitting Democrat Members of the House, and one, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, winning by a slim 6 votes.
 
According to Susan B Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser“These pro-life champions will serve as a brick wall against the radical pro-abortion agenda of Speaker Pelosi and pro-abortion Democrats dead set on taking out even modest protections for pro-life Americans such as the Hyde Amendment and similar legacy riders.”
 
“The exponential growth of pro-life women in the House is reflective of the fact that life has gone from being viewed as a political problem to a winning issue. These women have already done important work to expose the extremism of their radical pro-abortion opponents and we look forward to working alongside them to depend lifesaving law and policy in Congress.”
 
Six pro-life women will serve in the U.S.Senate in 2021, seven if Sen. Kelly Loeffler from Georgia wins in the run-off election on January 5, 2021.

Pro-Abortion State Election Efforts Fail


Republicans were elected across the U.S. in critical races for governor and state legislatures where laws regulating abortion are passed and implemented and where maps determining the mandated ten-year redistricting of boundaries for legislative and congressional districts are often decided. The pro-life Republican party now holds unified control over governors’ offices and both houses of the legislature in twenty-two states, with election wins in Montana and New Hampshire; a total of thirty legislatures are under Republican control.
 
Pro-abortion activists and the Democrat party had attempted to prevent this success. According to Reuters“Democrats spent $50 million trying to win control of state legislatures in 2020, but the effort mostly failed, cementing regional power in their more conservative Republican opponents over such issues as abortion, education and criminal justice.”
 
Earlier this year, pro-abortion EMILY’s List announced that it would spend a record $20 million in the 2020 election cycle trying to elect pro-abortion women to local and state offices and Planned Parenthood’s PAC was planning to spend at least $45 million— the most money the group has ever spent in an election.
 
Pro-abortion activists are worried at the likely passage of additional state laws protecting children in the womb from death by abortion. EMILY’s List laments, “Between 2010 and 2018, states enacted 424 abortion restrictions. That’s more than a third of all restrictions enacted since 1973, the year the Supreme Court decided Roe.”
International Pressure for Abortion

President of Argentina Introduces Bill to Legalize Abortion


The center-left president of Argentina, Alberto Fernándezpresented a bill to legalize abortion to the Chamber of Deputies.
 
The legislation—Regulation of access to voluntary interruption of pregnancy and post-abortion care— was drawn up by the ministries of Health and Women, Gender and Diversity in coordination with the Legal and Technical Secretariat of the Presidency. Two days of hearings were held by the committees on General Legislation, Health and Social Action, Women and Diversities, and Criminal Legislation with presentations from scientific, health, ethical-religious and judicial experts.
 
The President hopes to legalize abortion by the end of the 2020 legislative session, which his government extended to January 3, 2021, with the Chamber of Deputies voting on the legislation by December 10 and followed immediately by action in the more conservative Senate. Currently in Argentina, the home country of Pope Francis, abortion is legal only if there is a severe threat to the mother’s health or if the child was conceived in rape.
 
The legislation would legalize free abortion upon request under any circumstance in public and private hospitals for girls as young as 13 up until week 14 of pregnancy, and then up to the ninth month for cases of rape or endangerment to the “physical or mental” health of the mother. A “conscience objection” clause is included for health care professionals who oppose abortion but they will still be required to refer women seeking abortion to colleagues not opposed to abortion.
 
During an interview about the bill, President Fernández said it would have the necessary votes to pass and he believes that the debate is not about "abortion yes or no", but "under what conditions are abortions performed". It was reported that he accused pro-lifers of wanting "clandestine abortions to continue" saying, "those of us who say ‘yes to abortion,’ what we want is for abortions to be performed in appropriate sanitary conditions.”
 
Gines Gonzales Garcia, Argentina’s health minister, in controversial testimony before the committee said, “Here there are not two lives as some say.” He continued in ignorance of the scientific facts calling the unborn child “a phenomenon”: “There’s clearly a single person and the other [thing] is a phenomenon. If it were not like that, we would be facing the greatest universal genocide, [because] more than half the civilized world allows it.” PNCI notes that only 67 countries globally allow abortion on demand and the death of unborn children is the true genocide.
 
Deputy Francisco Sánchez responded to the health minister by demanding his resignation for the "aberrant denial of the life of the unborn child" from the moment of conception, and for denying "the scientific evidence and the international treaties to which Argentina adheres”. He wrote in an official letter, "This statement is not only erroneous and inhumane, it has the clear intention of denying the existence of life to justify its subsequent elimination through the legalization of abortion, even up to the ninth month of pregnancy.”
 
Read more here, including about Pope Francis’ letter to members of the women’s network who asked for his help defeating the legalization of abortion.

Africa: New Media Campaign to Encourage Abortions


Leading pro-abortion organization Ipas and a media network have begun a new campaign in Africa promoting abortion in ten Francophone countries. According to Ipas social media, a signature agreement” was signed between Ipas and Remapsen in “partnership for a media campaign (10 countries) around the issue of improving the environment for access to safe abortion, in accordance with the Maputo Protocol.” The Maputo Protocol is the only treaty in the world that allows abortion, specifically “in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.”
 
Remapsen (African Media Network for Health and Environment Promotion) was established this past summer under the context of fighting the pandemic and sharing information with “a population that is generally poorly informed about health projects”, according to a post by its president Bamba Youssouf on Facebook. Media from thirty countries are part of the network who been actively being trained and recruited from targeted countries with Côte d'Ivoire as an example.
 
The French-speaking African representative of Ipas, Dr Dougrou ​​Sosthène, addressed a special gathering of journalists advancing advocacy techniques “in order to urge the Ivorian authorities to apply the Maputo protocol which promotes safe abortion.”
 
Ipas also held a meeting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the Young Parliamentarians Network/DRC @reseau_rdc in its campaign to increase abortion in Africa. A tweet stated that the Maputo protocol was at the center of the discussions.
 
Youth in the DRC was also the target of an online Ipas campaign—“Abortion: Let’s Talk About It!”—designed “to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond”.
 
Dr. Jean-Claude Mulunda, country representative of Ipas DRC and one of the campaign coordinators said that “reproductive health services, including abortion, must be part of essential health care.”
 
Ipas’ website explains that it is working with eight Francophone nations—Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Niger and Togo—"to overcome political and cultural barriers and significantly expand programs providing safe abortion” and works “to build a network of committed champions for safe, legal abortion.”

EU: Resolution against Poland’s Ban on Eugenic Abortion


Members of the European Parliament adopted a non-binding Resolution on the de facto ban on the right to abortion in Poland condemning Poland for the decision by its Constitutional Tribunal to prohibit abortion on grounds of disability of an unborn child. The resolution charges that the decision “puts women’s health and lives at risk”, “fails to protect the inherent and inalienable dignity of women” and describes the denial of so-called women’s reproductive rights as “gender-based violence”.
 
The expansive resolution was adopted 455 votes to 145 and 71 abstentions and contained many typical pro-abortion arguments and pronouncements from activists serving on UN treaty monitoring bodies. Included was the claim: “whereas access to abortion constitutes a human right, while the delaying and denying thereof constitute forms of gender-based violence and may amount to torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

The resolution “deplored” the use of the conscience clause by health care professionals in Poland and called on the European Commission “to adopt guidelines for Member States to ensure equal access to SRHR goods and services in line with EU law and the jurisprudence of the ECtHR.”
 
The resolution omitted the statement the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations submitted to the Human Rights Committee which said: “Laws which explicitly allow for abortion on grounds of impairment violate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Art,. 4,5,8). Even if the condition is considered fatal, there is still a decision made on the basis of impairment. Often it cannot be said if an impairment is fatal. Experience shows that assessments on impairment conditions are often false. Even if it is not false, the assessment perpetuates notions of stereotyping disability as incompatible with a good life.”  
Focus on the United Nations

U.S. Defends Pro-Life Position during UPR


The United States presented the U.S. national report to the Human Rights Council’s 36th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and responded to questions from other UN Member States. The purpose of the UPR is to examine each Member State’s human rights obligations and commitments.
 
There are three main documents during a UPR: the national report, a summary of what U.N. agencies have said during other reviews, and a summary of NGO submissions. All three related to the U.S. can be found here.
 
The U.S. report in the issue area--Women and Health— strongly defended its commitment to protecting children in the womb from abortion:
 
“As the United States has noted on many occasions, there is no international human right to abortion, whether under that name or under other terms like ‘sexual and reproductive health.’ Rather, as President Trump has stated, ‘our Nation proudly and strongly reaffirms our commitment to protect the precious gift of life at every stage, from conception until natural death.’ The United States believes in the sovereign right of nations to make their own laws to protect the unborn, and rejects any interpretation of international human rights to require any State to provide access to abortion. As President Trump has stated, ‘Every person – the born and the unborn, the poor, the downcast, the disabled, the infirm, and the elderly – has inherent value.’
 
The Netherlands recommended that the U.S. repeal the Helms Amendment and the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy; Denmark demanded an end to Title X restrictions; and other western countries recommended that the U.S support unrestricted provision of "sexual and reproductive health services"—meaning stop opposing abortion during negotiations.
 
U.S. ambassador to Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, stated the U.S. rejects “the proposition that abortion is a matter of international human rights and affirm that all lives, both born and unborn, should be protected”.
 
During the U.S. presentation, Dr. Dorothy Fink, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explained the U.S. pro-life health policy:
 
“The Protecting Life in Global Health Policy, in effect since May 2019, focuses the international discourse toward achieving four main pillars: One- better health for women, two- the preservation of human life at all stages, three- strengthening the family as foundational to any healthy society, and four- protecting every nation’s national sovereignty in global politics.”
 
Dr. Fink also mentioned the U.S. initiated Geneva Consensus Declaration calling it “a historic document that further strengthens a growing coalition around these four pillars” that has so far been co-signed by 33 countries, representing more than 1.6 billion people.
 
Numerous NGOs submitted individual and joint statements while four pro-life organizations were mentioned in the NGO summary. In regards to the U.S. restriction on funding to international organizations performing or promoting abortion, the summary notes:
Highlighting the Mexico City policy, several submissions were concerned about restrictions to foreign assistance related to abortion, while two submissions welcomed such restrictions.
 
The two pro-life NGOs voicing support for the pro-life policy were Priests for Life and C-Fam.
NGO criticism that “religious freedom had become an “opt out” strategy used to deny services related to health care, abortion and contraception” was also noted along with a reference that two submissions “welcomed action taken by the USA to support persons voicing religious or moral objections to abortion.” The two NGOs supporting conscience protection were the University of St. Thomas Prolife Center and ECLJ (European Center for Law and Justice).
 
In its report on the U.S. UPR Planned Parenthood stated“Today, as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, representatives from United Nations (UN) member states offered recommendations to the U.S. on how to correct recent human rights abuses. Many representatives focused on regressive policies from the Trump administration, and its allies across the U.S. government, that attack sexual and reproductive health and rights. With the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, two champions for sexual and reproductive health, this critical work of restoring policies that advance human rights can begin.”

The next step in the process is for the U.S. to review the recommendations and determine which ones it will accept, reporting back in, or before, March 2021.
Legislative News

South Australia: Abortion Related Actions


Legislators in South Australia’s Upper House have approved a bill to ban protests outside abortion clinics. The “Safe Access Zone” bill makes it an offense for anyone to protest within 150m of a clinic. Similar legislation has been passed throughout Australia, with the exception of Western Australia, which is currently debating the issue. 
 
South Australia is also considering legislation to change its abortion laws to categorize abortion solely as a health issue instead of a criminal one as it is now. The new law would also ease restrictions to make abortion more accessible and available on demand up to 22 weeks gestation. Late-term abortion would be permitted in cases where it was deemed “medically appropriate”. Opponents of the proposed bill argued these reasons could include physical, mental and psychosocial reasons. The vote will be a conscience vote in parliament.

New Zealand: Euthanasia Approved in National Referendum


Voters in New Zealand have voted to legalize euthanasia in a national referendum during the country’s recent election. The End of Life Choice Act 2019 was approved by parliament last year, and with the public’s approval, will now go into effect November 2021. Under the new law, New Zealand citizens over the age of 18 facing a terminal illness are permitted to request assisted suicide if they are in an “advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability”, and are experiencing “unbearable suffering that cannot be relived in a manner that the person considers tolerable”. The law notes that health practitioners do not have to participate if they object as a matter of conscience.

Canada: Legislation Would Expand Euthanasia Law


Legislation being debated in the House of Commons would expand the country’s euthanasia law beyond terminally ill patients. Bill C-7 would amend the government’s medical assistance in dying (MAiD) policy, removing the requirement that the patient’s death be “reasonably foreseeable”. The proposed changes are supported by the Liberal government and the Conservative Caucus is split, with 78 of its 121 members voting against it. While they proposed some amendments to add protections to vulnerable populations, the bill is expected to pass and go to the Senate. 
 
Disability advocates have strongly criticized the “norm-shattering legislation” and argued that it could lead people with disabilities to seek euthanasia despite the possibility of recovery. It would also make those suffering from mental illness vulnerable to seeking to end their life. The Angus Reid poll of Canadians by Cardus, a non-partisan faith-based think tank, found that 69 percent of citizens have concerns that expanding MAiD will lead to people dealing with issues like depression seeking to end their lives instead of seeking treatment.

Tasmania: Euthanasia Bill Passes Upper House


Tasmania’s parliament is again advancing legislation to legalize euthanasia, with a bill to do so passing the upper house of parliament. It is expected to also pass the lower house, however, further voting has been delayed by an order by Premier Peter Gutwein requiring a committee report. “Should this legislation become law, it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that it is the best law possible and affords real protections for the most vulnerable in our community,” explained Gutwein. The study will also look at how the legislation would affect faith-based hospitals. Bill sponsor Mike Gaffney said his bill would force faith-based institutions to comply. “They shouldn’t be able to (stop assisted dying) in a secular society,” he said. This is the fourth attempt to legalize euthanasia in the province.

Ireland: Pro-Life Parliamentarians Form New Group on Late Term Abortion


TDs in Ireland have set up a new pro-life all-party group in parliament and have plans to amend abortion legislation. The Oireachtas Life and Dignity Group has called for “a humane response” to the pain an unborn baby experiences during an abortion, found to be experienced at 12 weeks gestation. A recent study in the British Journal of Obsterics and Gynaecology revealed that late term unborn babies with fetal abnormalities are being aborted in Ireland by a shot of potassium chloride to the heart, a practice which doctors called “brutal” and “awful”. Pro-life vigils were held throughout protesting this revelation and calling on the Minister of Health to investigate late term abortion. This week TDs from the group took to the floor of the Dáil to highlight the brutality of late term abortion with impassioned speeches; watch here. The all-party group plans to introduce amendments to abortion legislation next year. 
Executive News

UK: Traveling for Assisted Suicide OK During Coronavirus Lockdown


UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that people traveling abroad for assisted suicide was permitted under the country’s new coronavirus lockdown rules. Meanwhile, public worship is not. The tighter lockdown was instituted amid rising cases of Covid-19, requiring people to stay home unless they have a “reasonable excuse”. Secretary Hancock explained that travel to another country for euthanasia would be considered a “reasonable excuse” for leaving one’s home. The lockdown lasts four weeks.

Thailand: Cabinet Proposes Bill Legalizing Abortion


Thailand’s cabinet of ministers has sent parliament legislation to legalize abortion. The proposal would permit abortion on demand for the first 12 weeks gestation. Current law allows abortion in cases of rape or the life of the mother. The government’s official statement called the current law a “restriction on women’s rights” and a violation of “the constitution which dictates people have freedom over their lives and bodies.” The government expects the legislation to become law in February 2021. 
Judicial News

UK: Court to Hear Case Challenging Abortion Law on Down Syndrome


The UK’s High Court will hear a case challenging the country’s abortion law permitting abortion up to birth for Down syndrome. The suit is led by Heidi Crowter, a 24 year-old pro-life activist who has Down syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, whose son has Down syndrome. They are challenging the current law, which says abortion is permissible when a baby will “suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped” for being discriminatory and offensive. "The current law is unfair. It makes me feel like I shouldn't exist, and that I'd be better off dead in the eyes of the law," Crowter. Data from the Department of Health and Social Care has 339 mentions of Down syndrome on abortion reporting forms from January to June of 2020 and the Christian Institute reports 92% of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome in England are aborted.
 

Brazil: Court Tells Abortion Group They Can’t Use “Catholic” in Name


A Brazilian court has ruled that the abortion activist group “Catholics for the Right to Decide” must remove the word “Catholic” from their name. The group, the Latin American off-shoot of the U.S. based Catholics for Choice, promotes abortion which is counter to the values of the Catholic Church causing confusion. “In defending of the right to decide on abortion, which the Church clearly and severely condemns, there is a clear distortion and incompatibility of the name used in relation to the aims and specific actions of the association, which directly attack morality and good customs, in addition to harming the public good and interests,” said the court’s decision.

Chris Tonietto, a Brazilian legislator and attorney, said after the ruling that "the name was considered subversive because it perverts the meaning of Catholicism itself, which is why we say that they created confusion. This organization has always acted to create confusion, so much so that the name 'Catholics for the Right to Decide', was certainly used in an abusive and undue way.”

U.S.: Court Rules Texas and Louisiana Can Defund Planned Parenthood


The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has ruled that Texas and Louisiana can defund Planned Parenthood. The decision overturns a lower federal court’s decision and permits the states the ability to select which providers receive their Medicaid funds. Abortion provider Planned Parenthood currently receives about $3.1 million annually from the Texas Medicaid funding. In the court’s ruling, Justice Owen wrote that the federal law makes “clear that a state agency may determine that a Medicaid provider is unqualified and terminate its Medicaid provider agreement even if the provider is lawfully permitted to provide health services to the general public.” Planned Parenthood is expected to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. 

 
 
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In this Issue

 
Focus on the U.S.
Post-Election: Pro-Abortion Organizations Celebrating and Demanding
Record Number of Pro-Life Women Elected to U.S. Congress
Pro-Abortion State Election Efforts Fail
 
International Pressure for Abortion
President of Argentina Introduces Bill to Legalize Abortion
Africa: New Media Campaign to Encourage Abortions
EU: Resolution against Poland’s Ban on Eugenic Abortion
 
Focus on the United Nations
U.S. Defends Pro-Life Position during UPR
 
Legislative News
South Australia: Abortion Related Actions
New Zealand: Euthanasia Approved in National Referendum 
Canada: Legislation Would Expand Euthanasia Law
Tasmania: Euthanasia Bill Passes Upper House
Ireland: Pro-Life Parliamentarians Form New Group on Late Term Abortion
 
Executive News
UK: Traveling for Assisted Suicide OK During Coronavirus Lockdown
Thailand: Cabinet Proposes Bill Legalizing Abortion
 
Judicial News
UK: Court to Hear Case Challenging Abortion Law on Down Syndrome
Brazil: Court Tells Abortion Group They Can’t Use “Catholic” in Name
U.S.: Court Rules Texas and Louisiana Can Defund Planned Parenthood