CHICAGO Dec 14 The Obama administration has
issued a final rule designed to block states from withholding
federal Title X money for Planned Parenthood and other family
The new rule, issued on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, is designed to clarify regulations
under Title X of the Public Health Service Act and "protect
access to family planning services," the department said in a
"This rule will strengthen access to essential services like
cancer screenings and contraception for some of the most
vulnerable patients in this country," Dr. Karen Scott, chief
medical officer of the HHS, said in a statement.
Scott said public comments prior to finalizing the rule
"showed overwhelming support."
The move was seen as a last-ditch effort by the Obama
administration to shore up protections under Title X, which
provides funds to nearly 4,000 community-based clinics that
serve more than 4 million people each year.
HHS said the rule aimed to address moves by several states
to restrict participation by "certain types of providers" for
reasons unrelated to their ability to provide family planning
The final rule clarifies that entities cannot be barred from
participating for reasons other than their ability to provide
"The Obama Administration's rule makes it clear that it is
against the law for states to block people from accessing care
at a health center because the organization also provides safe,
legal abortion," Planned Parenthood said in a statement.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Additional reporting by Jilian
Mincer in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)