Appeals Court Refuses to Block Trump Rule That Would Cut Planned Parenthood Funding

Photo: Michael Thomas (Getty)

In a major setback for Planned Parenthood, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a Trump ban on funding clinics that refer women to abortion providers can take effect while the court weighs the overall merits.

Federal law has long banned use of federal funding to pay for abortions, but monies could still be provided to health providers like Planned Parenthood that might refer women to abortion providers as part of overall reproductive health services.

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But, as the Washington Examiner explains, Donald Trump’s “Protect Life Rule” “would prevent Title X family planning funding from going to abortion providers or to clinics that refer patients to abortion providers.”

Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups have been suing since March to stop the rule from taking effect, a rule it calls a “gag rule,” impacting lawful and medically necessary communication between women and their health providers.

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But on Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the rule can take effect while the full 11-judge panel deliberates about whether the rule ultimately is legal.

Reacting on Twitter, Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, called the 9th Circuit’s decision “devastating”:

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Planned Parenthood operates about 40 percent of all clinics in the nation operating with Title X funding, according to the Examiner. It has said it will not comply with the Trump rule and, according to the Los Angeles Times, faces a loss of nearly $60 million in federal funds each year.

“Today’s court order completely disregards the irreparable harm the regulations pose to millions of patients,” Julie Rabinovitz, president and CEO of Essential Access Health, another one of the challengers in the case, told the Times.

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As the Times explains, the new rule:

requires recipients of family planning funds to refer pregnant women to a non-abortion prenatal care provider.

[...]

Under the rule, recipients of federal funds may give women a list of providers that includes doctors who perform abortions but may not direct them to those physicians.

The rule also requires providers to encourage patients to discuss their situation with their families and to tell single women about the benefits of abstinence.

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