President Obama has riled Republicans — and demonstrated again his worthiness — by proposing a federal rule to prevent states from denying money to family planning providers such as Planned Parenthood for political reasons.

In other words, Obama thinks it’s wrong to deny money for important medical services because some in Congress disagree with lawful viewpoints of some of  those providers that include abortion in services NOT financed by government.


Arkansas and other Republican-led states have tried to stop Medicaid money from flowing to Planned Parenthood because the organization also provides abortion as well as basic medical services for men and women, family planning, sex education and sexual disease services.

The new rule, which the Department of Health and Human Services proposed last week, says that states cannot withhold Title X federal family planning money from certain recipients for any reason other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” That means states can no longer vote to defund Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics offer abortion services.

“This will make a real difference in so many people’s lives,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. “Thanks to the Obama administration, women will still be able to access the birth control they need to plan their families, and the cancer screenings they need to stay healthy.”

The Title X program provides basic preventive health care and family planning services for 4 million low-income Americans. About 85 percent of patients who use Title X have incomes below $23,500. Planned Parenthood serves about a third of those patients, using the $70 million a year it receives in Title X grants to subsidize contraceptives and cancer and sexually transmitted infection screenings for people who can’t afford them. Title X does not allow any money to be used to pay for abortions for any reason.

I note with interest that Republican Rep. Mike Holcomb, being challenged again by Democrat Gretchen Dorothy Hall for his state House seat, continues to make a hallmark of his party switch Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s denial of money for Planned Parenthood and Democratic opposition to the cutoff.  Hall said the decision was purely political and not good for Arkansas. She is, of course, exactly right. Poor women were disproportionately the victims of Hutchinson/Holcomb. This is not the only area in which Holcomb has suspect record on women.