9th Circuit Allows Trump Administration Abortion Rules To Move Forward

Feb 24, 2020
Originally published on February 24, 2020 3:39 pm

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday it will allow Trump administration Title X rules to move forward.

The ruling affects programs and clinics that get Title X dollars from the federal government to treat low-income Americans. Under the rules, they'll be barred from referring patients to an abortion provider and medical professionals must give a patient other alternatives to abortions, even if the patient doesn't want them.

The rules also require separation between clinics that get Title X funding and abortion providers.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesperson Mollie Timmons said the agency was "pleased" by the ruling.

"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," Timmons said in a statement.

Attorneys general in Oregon and 19 other states, along with the District of Columbia, filed suit over the rules and won injunctions in three states last year.

The Trump administration appealed. In June, the 9th Circuit allowed the rules to go into effect during the appeal process.

Monday's ruling by the 9th Circuit overturned those lower court injunctions in Oregon, Washington and California, where judges had blocked the rules from going into effect.

"In light of Supreme Court approval of the 1988 regulations and our broad deference to agencies’ interpretations of the statutes they are charged with implementing, plaintiffs’ legal challenges to the 2019 rule fail," the judges for the 9th Circuit wrote in their opinion Monday. "Accordingly, we vacate the injunctions entered by the district courts and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and they're considering appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Our fight to keep abortion access legal and safe will continue," Rosenblum said in a statement. "As for what happens next in Oregon, today’s ruling is a reminder that we cannot stop fighting for the legal and health care rights of all Oregonians, particularly our most vulnerable who turn to family planning clinics for some of their most basic health needs.”   

The ruling was blasted by the American Medical Association, which said the court was allowing the Trump administration to gag physicians.

"This government overreach and interference demands that physicians violate their ethical obligations – prohibiting open, frank conversations with patients about all their health care options – if they want to continue treating patients under the Title X program," AMA president Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement. "It is unconscionable that the government is telling physicians that they can treat this underserved population only if they promise not to discuss or make referrals for all treatment options."

Title X also funds programs such as testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, as well as diseases such as cervical cancer. Currently, federal dollars can’t be used to fund abortions.

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