Federal Appeals Court OKs Trump’s Abortion Gag Rules

A woman stands with her child in a stroller during an anti-abortion rally in June 2019 outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, Missouri’s lone abortion clinic.
Photo: Michael B. Thomas (Getty)

In a decision Planned Parenthood called “devastating,” a federal appeals court Thursday ruled in favor of the Trump administration’s family planning gag rule intended to prevent health providers from making abortion referrals or discussing where a patient might have one.

Thursday’s ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows the rule to take effect immediately.

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As the Washington Post reports:

The new rule would make clinics ineligible to receive funds if they provide abortions or referrals for them. Department of Health and Human Services officials have said the rule is necessary because, in the words of deputy assistant secretary Diane Foley speaking on Capitol Hill this week, of “grave concerns” that taxpayer money was going toward abortions, which is not legal.

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Planned Parenthood, which could be in danger of losing up to $60 million in federal so-called Title X funding, said it would appeal immediately.

As Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press:

“The news out of the 9th Circuit this morning is devastating for the millions of people who rely on Title X health centers for cancer screenings, HIV tests, affordable birth control and other critical primary and preventive care. Planned Parenthood will not let the government censor our doctors and nurses from informing patients where and how they can access health care.”

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More than 20 state attorneys general and numerous civil rights and health groups filed suit to stop the gag rule from going into effect when it was announced by the Department of Health and Human Services in March of this year.

They argued that the rule unlawfully came between patients and their health providers, endangering women’s health as the rules would, according to the AP:

ban taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals, and prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers — a rule critics said would force many to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down.

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But the judges on the 9th Circuit found the gag rules to be “reasonable” and said they were in line with current federal law that prohibits taxpayer funds from going to “programs where abortion is a method of family planning,” AP explained:

“If the program refers patients to abortion providers for family planning services, then that program is logically one ‘where abortion is a method of family planning,’” the panel wrote.

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Planned Parenthood, the largest recipient of Title X funding, per the Post, is under the gun across the nation as states, most of them led by Republicans, have this year passed extreme abortion restrictions.

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It is an open effort by anti-abortion legislators and activists to goad the now conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court into overturning Roe v. Wade, the law that legalized abortion in the U.S.

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