Appeals Court Protects Life Again

Jul 11, 2019

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-4 today injunctions that previously blocked enforcement of the Trump administration’s Title X Protect Life Rule (Rule). This Rule cuts off federal funding to organizations that provide abortions in the same facilities as other services financed by taxpayer dollars. The Rule can now go into effect. 

The federal appeals court rejected emergency bids to temporarily set aside its recent decision allowing the Rule to go into effect, as litigation on the merits continues in the Fourth Circuit and in the District Court of Maine. The three-judge panel found that the Rule was likely to win on the legal merits of the regulation. 

This regulation will stop federal funding flowing to Planned Parenthood by approximately $60 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued the Rule to stop the flow of Title X federal funds to family planning facilities that perform abortions or do abortion referrals. This regulation means that clinics that receive federal family planning grants called Title X — which pay for birth control, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings — will not be allowed to be housed in the same buildings as those that also provide abortions.

The Rule applies to a $286 million-a-year grant that four million low-income people use. Planned Parenthood previously has received between $50 million and $60 million from the grants. The Title X program was enacted in 1970, as part of the Public Health Service Act, to provide family planning assistance primarily to low-income families. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, stated that Title X funds were ‘never’ meant to fund abortion services, given that the program was enacted three years before abortion was legalized nationwide.

The Protect Life Rule was originally signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Reagan’s effort to direct tax dollars to entities that provide health care to women but do not perform abortions was tied up in court and was ultimately overturned in the first days of Bill Clinton’s presidency.

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