On June 20th, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overruled a lower court decision, making it so that the Trump administration could effectively defund abortion providers of Title X family planning funds and redirect the funding to other Title X family planning providers. Then, in early July, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted plaintiffs’ request to rehear the case “en banc,” with 11 judges set to determine whether the three-judge panel (appointed by Republican presidents) ruled correctly. The Trump Administration’s Protect Life Rule (opponents call it the “gag rule”) is a Department of Health and Human Services rule change that requires entities receiving Title X family planning federal funds to separate their family planning services from their abortion services, both fiscally and physically, and orders that these entities also not refer for abortions.
“An emergency stay had been sought by some abortion rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood, and by 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia,” notes Reuters. But yesterday, that petition was denied by seven of the 11 judges. “By a 7-4 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand its June 20 decision lifting injunctions blocking enforcement of the rule, which makes clinics ineligible for Title X family planning funds if they provide abortion referrals.”
“After due consideration of the emergency motions, the motions for administrative stay of the three-judge panel order are DENIED. The en banc court will proceed expeditiously to rehear and reconsider the merits of the Appellants’ motions for stay of the district courts’ preliminary injunction orders pending consideration of the appeals on the merits,” reads the court order (HT: Priests for Life). The four judges who dissented in the decision of the en banc panel were Chief Judge Thomas and Judges Wardlaw, W. Fletcher, and Paez, all appointed by Democratic presidents.
In an emailed statement, Priests for Life applauded the decision, with Fr. Frank Pavone saying, “I am delighted that the court sees the good sense in letting the president’s Protect Life Rule go into effect while the lawsuit against it unfolds.”
But not everyone is pleased. Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen called the decision “devastating news.”
This is devastating news. While we are incredibly concerned the panel did not recognize the harm of the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule, we will not stop fighting for the millions across the country in need for care.
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) July 11, 2019
This rule change could cost the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, approximately $60 million in funding annually.
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