The law takes effect just two days before he leaves office
President Obama is using his final weeks in office to help ensure that women’s rights stay in place even after he leaves the White House.
On Tuesday, Obama signed a new rule into place that effectively bars states from denying funds to health service centers which provide abortions. Over the last several years, there has been a growing movement by Republicans on Congress and in some states to “defund” such centers, with a particular emphasis placed on Planned Parenthood centers.
“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 in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, said in a statement. “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.”
The move was also praised by Planned Parenthood on Twitter.
Interestingly, the New York Times noted that records that while Planned Parenthood centers only make up about 10 percent of all women’s health centers they are responsible for treating nearly a third of all patients who receive such services, making the work they do all the more essential for women across the country. The group said its services impact 1.5 million women per year through public funding, including $500 million from the federal government.
During the 2016 election, President-elect Donald Trump was a rare Republican who defended Planned Parenthood for its non-abortion related services but also said he supported denying the group public funding.
Obama’s new rule issued through the Department of Health and Human Services takes place on January 18th, just two days before his second term in office is over.
However, the rule would still be overturned if Congress decided to create a new rule making process or by a “joint resolution of disapproval by the House and Senate, with agreement from the president.”
“This fight is not over,” Planned Parenthood Federation President Cecile Richards said in a statement.