UPDATE 3/16/21: The Biden Administration has requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the lawsuits involving the Trump Administration’s Title X Protect Life Rule which blocked federal dollars from funding health clinics that commit abortions or refer for abortions through the nation’s family planning program. The Fourth U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s decision to block the rule from going into effect, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the rule. The Supreme Court would have had to determine which appeals court was correct, however, now that Joe Biden is president and has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to review and possibly reverse the Protect Life Rule, the lawsuits are no longer considered necessary by the Biden Administration.
2/24/20: In a 7-4 decision, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted injunctions that blocked the Trump Administration’s Title X rule change. Dubbed The Protect Life Rule, it requires that abortion businesses separate their abortion services from their family planning/birth control services both physically and fiscally in order to qualify for Title X family planning federal funding. Courthouse News reports:
In a 7-4 split, the Ninth Circuit rejected arguments that the rule forces doctors to violate medical ethics by withholding information from patients or that it violates other federal laws that require doctors inform patients of all medical treatment options.
Last June, a three-judge randomly selected panel from the Ninth Circuit also decided unanimously that the rule could go into effect, but the Court then decided, at the behest of pro-abortion groups, that the entire panel of 11 judges would rehear the case. Today, the decision agreeing with the original three-judge panel was released.
According to Courthouse News, the Court found that a previous Supreme Court decision aided the majority’s decision:
Writing for the majority, U.S. Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta, a George W. Bush appointee, found that the rule is a “reasonable interpretation” of Section 1008 of Title X, which forbids using Title X funds “in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
Ikuta and the majority found the rule consistent with the 1991 Supreme Court decision Rust v. Sullivan, which upheld a similar Reagan administration rule that forbade Title X-funded providers from advocating abortion.
“The Supreme Court has long made a distinction between regulations that impose burdens on health care providers and their clients and those that merely reflect Congress’s choice not to subsidize certain activities,” Ikuta wrote.
In the minority’s dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Paez, a Clinton appointee, claimed, “In vacating the district courts’ preliminary injunctions, the majority sanctions the agency’s gross overreach and puts its own policy preferences before the law. Women and their families will suffer for it.”
According to Fox News, Department of Justice spokesperson Mollie Timmons praised the decision, stating, “We are pleased by the en banc Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding HHS’s rule forbidding the use of taxpayer money to subsidize abortion through Title X grants. Congress has long prohibited the use of Title X funds in programs where abortion is a method of family planning and HHS’s recent rule makes that longstanding prohibition a reality. We look forward to continuing to defend this vital rule against all challenges.”
However, pro-abortion advocates reacted in the opposite manner, referring to the Protect Life Rule as the “gag rule” in usual fashion:
The 9th Circuit put politics before patients' lives today, allowing the #TitleX gag rule to be enforced. This harmful decision will impact the ability of poor & underserved patients to access quality reproductive care. #SaveTitleX & ensure reproductive freedom is for every body.
— NARAL (@NARAL) February 24, 2020
Today, a federal court upheld the Trump admin’s unethical, dangerous Title X gag rule — denying relief for patients across the country who depend on Planned Parenthood and other Title X providers for birth control and other care.
Congress must reverse the gag rule. #ProtectX
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) February 24, 2020
What Planned Parenthood isn’t saying in its tweet is that it chose to leave the Title X program rather than comply with the requirement to separate its abortion business from its other services. In addition, the Title X funding no longer going towards organizations not in compliance with the rule has been rerouted toward other healthcare facilities, and no funding has been cut from the program.
Courthouse News notes that the decision “dissolves three injunctions issued last year by federal judges in Oregon, Washington state and California…. Other lawsuits against the rule are pending in courts across the country, including in Maryland, where a federal judge blocked the rule from taking effect on Feb. 18.” Live Action News reported on the Maryland decision here.
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