Obama's Latest Move Will Protect Planned Parenthood From Anti-Choice Republicans

Obama has cemented his position as a modern-day warrior for women's rights.

The shadow of a Donald Trump administration and a Republican-led Congress looms ever larger, and civil rights groups are shoring up their defenses for the seemingly inevitable clash come January 2017. Moves to protect organizations expected to come under attack have been put in motion since Trump's election victory, and the group perhaps most targeted by the GOP in recent years got a huge boost from the Obama administration on Wednesday. 

After months in the making, officials issued a new rule that would bar states from withholding federal funds from Planned Parenthood for political purposes. The rule will go into effect on Jan. 18, two days before the presidential inauguration. The Department of Health and Human Services said that efforts at repealing the rule "would require a new rule-making process, or a joint resolution of disapproval by the House and Senate" with Trump's approval, the New York Times reported.

The rule was proposed months ago when polls largely pointed to a Hillary Clinton victory, but now that Trump is slated to take office, it seems even more crucial that Planned Parenthood be protected. Anti-choice Republican lawmakers in a number of states have devoted much of their time and effort to strip the health care provider from federal money because its network is the largest provider of abortions, though only half of affiliated clinics perform them, reported the Times

Bills to defund Planned Parenthood largely hinge on withholding money from Title X, a government family planning program that largely caters to low-income communities to help provide access to birth control, STD tests, cancer screening, and other reproductive health services. 

Health clinics cannot use federal funding to provide abortion services — except in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman's life is in danger — thanks to the Hyde Amendment, yet anti-choice lawmakers have pressed on regardless. The rule would prevent states from withholding Title X funds from Planned Parenthood or any other health provider for reasons other than their ability to administer family planning services.

But the fight is far from over. Avowed anti-choice advocate vice president-elect Mike Pence will be the second most powerful man in the country. And Republican lawmakers have found ways to clamp down on women's reproductive rights besides defunding Planned Parenthood. Just this week, for example, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill that would ban abortion at 20-weeks, following 17 other states that have a similar law. 

Calling President Obama "a champion for women's health," Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told the Huffington Post that they won't back down. "Every person deserves the right to control their own bodies, their own health, and their own well-being without politicians getting in the way," she added.

A Plus has reached out to Planned Parenthood for comment.

Cover image via Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

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