Last week President Trump signed a bill that may limit women’s access to health care, and former vice president Joe Biden called on Trump to discuss alleged anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya with the Russian government.
Here’s a rundown of what happened and why it matters.
New law may restrict women’s access to health care
Trump signed a bill that allows states to withhold from federal funds that provide abortion services.
This new law rolls back a rule passed by the Obama administration two days before Trump’s inauguration.
The law said the only way states and local government could withhold federal funds from providers is if the facility was unable to provide family planning services.
Throughout the past several years, many Republican-controlled legislatures have tried to pass laws that stopped federal funds from going to any clinic that provides abortions.
The Obama administration rule ensured this was illegal.
This new law passed only after Vice President Mike Pence stepped in and made a tie breaking vote.
These federal funds, known as Title X, are grants that go to family-planning providers.
The initiative started in 1970 and is the only federal grant program solely dedicated to providing individuals with family planning and related preventive health services.
Federal law does not allow the money to pay for abortions.
However, it is not legal for a state to withhold funds from a provider applying for a grant solely because abortion is one of the services it offers.
Not all Planned Parenthood clinics take Title X money, but some use it to offset the cost of providing free or low-cost services to patients who would not otherwise be able to afford such care.
About 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients benefit from Title X funds, according to Planned Parenthood.
CNN reported the new Trump law is not the end of funding for Planned Parenthood, as House Speaker Paul Ryan pushed for in January of this year.
However, the new Trump law has been characterized as a first step on the path, according to CNN.
More than 20 million women in the United States depend on publicly funded family planning care, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive policy group.
“We are talking about restricting access to care for the most underserved and vulnerable populations who rely on these family planning safety net services,” said Kinsey Hasstedt, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute.
Joe Biden condemns reported anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya
Biden has called on Trump to raise the issue of alleged anti-LGBT violence in the Republic of Chechnya with the Russian government.
Human rights groups and media in the Russian republic have reported an increasing number of reports of gay men disappearing, according to MSNBC.
Some have been detained, while the fates of others remain unknown.
Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that broke the story, reported earlier this month that more than 100 gay men had been detained and three had been murdered.
Biden now oversees a foreign policy center at the University of Pennsylvania and domestic policy center at the University of Delaware.
He said he was “disgusted and appalled” by reports that “authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have rounded up, tortured and even murdered individuals who are believed to be gay.”
“I hope that the current administration lives up to the promises it has made to advance human rights for everyone by raising this issue directly with Russia’s leaders,” Biden said in an interview on CNN. “The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights.”
The United Nations office on human rights has also condemned the reported violence.
“It is crucial that reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly,” a statement posted on the website for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights read.
Tensions with Russia have been high lately, which makes it unlikely that the Trump administration calls would be heard in Russia.
Trump told reporters this week that relations between the U.S. and Russia are at an “all-time low.”
A White House spokesperson did not respond to questions about Biden’s call for Trump to act.
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