The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule,” which marks a clear distinction between abortion and family planning, is constitutional.
The en banc Ninth Circuit ruled, 7-4, that the injunctions against enforcement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Title X family planning funding rule be vacated.
Today's 9th Circuit ruling on the #ProtectLife Rule is a BIG DEAL. It affirms that abortion is NOT family planning. And it respects the will of a strong majority of Americans who object to being forced to pay for abortions with their tax dollars.
— Susan B. Anthony List (@SBAList) February 24, 2020
In her opinion, Judge Sandra Ikuta, an appointee of President George W. Bush, showed that the distinction between family planning and abortion in Title X, which was first enacted in 1970, is not an invention of the Trump administration:
Title X of the Public Health Service Act gives the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) authority to make grants to support “voluntary family planning projects” for the purpose of offering “a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services.” … Section 1008 of Title X prohibits grant funds from “be[ing] used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
The judge noted that while “[r]egulations issued in 1988, and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991, completely prohibited the use of Title X funds in projects where clients received counseling or referrals for abortion as a method of family planning,” those “issued in 2000 were more permissive.”
Ikuta also pointed out the abortion lobby’s insistence on referring to the Protect Life Rule as a “gag” order on abortion counseling is inaccurate.
“[T]he 2019 rule is less restrictive in at least one important respect: a counselor providing nondirective pregnancy counseling ‘may discuss abortion’ so long as ‘the counselor neither refers for, nor encourages, abortion,’” the judge wrote, and added:
Plaintiffs, including several states and private Title X grantees, brought various suits challenging the 2019 rule, and three district courts in three states entered preliminary injunctions against HHS’s enforcement of the rule. 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. Accordingly, we vacate the injunctions entered by the district courts and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
The abortion lobby and its allies attacked the decision:
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