On Its Way Out, Obama Admin. Enacts Rule Preventing States from Defunding Planned Parenthood

By Lauretta Brown | December 15, 2016 | 1:41 PM EST

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule Wednesday that would block states from defunding abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

The final version of the rule bans any recipient of Title X federal funding for family planning from excluding potential funding recipients “for reasons other than its ability to provide Title X services.”

HHS claimed that “In the past several years, a number of states have taken actions to restrict participation by certain types of providers as subrecipients in the Title X Program, unrelated to the provider’s ability to provide family planning services. This has caused limitations in the geographic distribution of services and decreased access to services.”

The rule was proposed in September and met opposition from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who - in a comment submitted to HHS - emphasized that the “stated purpose of this proposed addition is to prevent states from excluding providers such as Planned Parenthood from subawards based on state criteria.”  

The bishops’ organization argued that “states should retain the discretion to determine which subrecipients are best suited to provide family planning services” and called the change “ill advised.”

The rule was also opposed by 18 senators and 90 members of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who wrote that “HHS’s purpose for engaging in the rulemaking appears on its face to be an attempt to subvert the will of elected representatives.”

Black reacted to the news of the rule’s finalization Wednesday, saying, “With this rule, we see an administration that 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.”

“We should not be surprised that his administration would lash out with this eleventh hour power grab on the way out the door, but I am certain this rule will not stand for long,” Black continued. 

“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. The Obama Administration will not have the last word. 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.”

The new regulation takes effect Jan. 18, 2017, just two days before President-elect Trump’s inauguration.