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.”

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