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In final days of Obama era, HHS issues regulation blocking states from defunding Planned Parenthood

President Barack Obama hugs Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

With just over a month remaining for President Barack Obama’s administration, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that it has issued a new regulation barring states from stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood.

The regulation will prevent states from restricting the ability of “specific types of providers,” such as Planned Parenthood, to receive Title X funds “based on reasons unrelated to their ability to provide required services in an effective manner.”

Title X is a federal grant program that funds some family planning and preventive health services.

After a series of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress raised allegations that Planned Parenthood was profiting from the sale of aborted fetal body parts, several states stripped these funds from the organization. Planned Parenthood has denied illegal conduct, and the allegations are under an ongoing congressional investigation.

But the new HHS rule will block states from denying Title X funds to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

The regulation will go into effect on Jan. 18, two days before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), a vocal opponent of the rule, said in a statement that the Obama administration “has become unglued at the knowledge of the impending pro-life sea change in Washington, DC.”

“President Obama knows that hope is rising for the innocent victims of Planned Parenthood’s brutality and the big abortion industry’s days of taxpayer-funded windfalls are numbered,” Black said.

Black, who led congressional opposition to the regulation alongside Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), added, “We should not be surprised that his administration would lash out with this 11th-hour power grab on the way out the door, but I am certain this rule will not stand for long.”

“Come next year, our pro-life majorities in Congress will be positioned to work with President-elect Trump and pro-life nominee for secretary of health and human services, Dr. Tom Price, to not only roll back this latest overreach but also to enact new legal protections for these most vulnerable members of our society,” Black argued.

“The Obama Administration will not have the last word,” she said. “With this new year comes renewed opportunity to fight for the dignity of every unborn child, the wellbeing of every struggling mother, and the conscience rights of every American taxpayer."

Black previously told TheBlaze that HHS sent her a mere form letter in response to her inquiry over the proposed rule.

In a blog post on their website, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying arm of Planned Parenthood, wrote that Obama "has cemented his legacy as a champion for women’s health."

"His administration’s rule ensures that patients can access care at qualified health care providers, including Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care providers," the post read.

HHS press office defended the rule as a means of increasing access to family planning services:

“This rule will strengthen access to essential services like cancer screenings and contraception for some of the most vulnerable patients in this country,” said Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Chief Medical Officer, Karen A. Scott, MD, MPH. “Public comments showed overwhelming support for finalizing the rule, which clarifies that all organizations able to provide these services should be eligible to compete for funds.”
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