President Barack Obama's administration released a regulation on Dec. 14 that will prohibit states from defunding Planned Parenthood for political reasons.
The Department of Health and Human Services originally introduced the rule in September, which clarifies eligibility and restrictions for Title X funding for preventative health care and family planning that goes to individuals with low incomes, as created by President Richard Nixon's administration in 1970, reports The Huffington Post.
Planned Parenthood receives $70 million per year from those funds to provide reproductive health services to roughly one-third of the 4 million Americans eligible for Title X grants.
"President Obama has cemented his legacy as a champion for women's health," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said. "This rule protects birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and other health care for millions of people."
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But over the last five years, Republicans in 24 state legislatures have worked to defund the health care provider because many of its clinics offer abortion services. Title X money -- or any other public funds -- cannot be used to fund abortions under federal law. Many of those lawmakers say that giving federal money to keep an organization afloat that performs abortions is a violation of their religious beliefs.
"We must use the full force of Congress and the grassroots strength of the national pro-life movement to defeat this absurd rule and prevent the Obama Administration from acting unilaterally to carry out political favors and prop up a scandal-ridden abortion provider," said Republican Rep. Dianne Black of Tennessee in a September statement, when plans for the regulation were first announced.
The HHS rule does not mention Planned Parenthood by name, although the department did say in a statement that many states are trying to "restrict participation by certain types of providers" for reasons "unrelated to the provider's ability to provide family planning services," notes The Hill.
The Republican-dominated legislature is expected to delay enacting the regulation for 60 legislative days under the Congressional Review Act, while President-elect Donald Trump has indicated he would support efforts to reduce or halt federal funding to Planned Parenthood during his term.