The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld President Trump’s Pro-Life Rule which defunded Planned Parenthood of $60 million dollars in Title X taxpayer funding.
The court’s opinion was authored by Judge Sandra Ikuta and was decided on a 7-4 vote along ideological lines. Two newly appointed judges that were nominated by President Trump both sided with the Administration. Judge Ikuta and the four other judges in the majority were also nominated by Republican presidents.
All four dissenting judges were nominated by former President Bill Clinton.
In a press release celebrating the ruling, the Susan B. Anthony List said, “President Trump’s Protect Life Rule honors the plain language of the Title X statute by stopping the funneling of Title X taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry, without reducing family planning funding by a dime. We look forward to the end of further frivolous litigation by the abortion lobby.”
The Title X family planning program provides financial support for clinics that ensure access to many family planning and preventative health services for low-income or uninsured individuals.
On May 18, 2018 the Trump Administration issued a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which revised the regulations governing the Title X family planning program. At the time, the White House issued a statement which read in part, “The new proposed rule would not cut funds from the Title X program. Instead, it would ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions. Contrary to recent media reports, HHS’s proposal does not include the so-called ‘gag rule’ on counseling about abortion.”
The rule required complete financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and abortion services to ensure that no Title X funds would indirectly fund abortions. It also prohibited healthcare providers that receive Title X funds from providing abortion referrals.
Because Planned Parenthood was unwilling to abide by these new regulations, they withdrew from the Title X program thereby forfeiting $60 million taxpayer dollars.
In a tweet denouncing the ruling, Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), the abortion giant’s political arm, said that the court had upheld the Trump Administration’s “gag rule.”
Yet, in her opinion, Judge Ikuta wrote, “The dissent relies heavily on its mistaken view that the Final Rule is a ‘Gag Rule.’ The dissent conjures up a ‘Kafkaesque’ situation where counselors have to ‘walk on eggshells to avoid a potential transgression’ of the Final Rule. But this scenario is belied by the Final Rule itself, which expressly authorizes counseling on abortion while prohibiting referrals for abortion.”
PPAF’s tweet also argued that the decision would harm patients who depend upon Planned Parenthood for care. However, the HHS rule does not reduce the money available to the Title X program by one penny. It only prohibits money from going to abortion providers who either overlap abortion services with other care, or who refer for abortions.
According to The Hill, Essential Access Health which is the largest Title X grantee in California is reviewing the decision and considering potential next steps, which could include an appeal to the Supreme Court.
We’ll keep you updated should any news arise on appeal. But for now, rest assured that Planned Parenthood just lost $60 million dollars, and babies everywhere are safer for it.
The case is California v. Azar.
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