SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that new Title X rules, that prohibit funds from going to clinics that perform abortions or provide abortion referrals, can go into effect.
The June 20 decision, issued from the bench in San Francisco, means that Planned Parenthood will stand to lose about $60 million in federal funding, though the abortion provider will continue to receive close to half a billion dollars in federal funding from other programs.
In late February, the Trump Administration finalized the “Protect Life Rule,” which added new eligibility requirements for Title X fund recipients. Shortly thereafter, several states sued over the new policy, and California, Washington, and Oregon received a preliminary injunction that blocked the rule from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that earlier decision on Thursday, calling the administration rules a "reasonable" interpretation of federal law.
The court ruled that allowing the injuction to stand would mean “HHS will be forced to allow taxpayer dollars to be spent in a manner that it has concluded violates the law, as well as the government’s important policy interest…in ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not go to fund or subsidize abortions.”
The three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled on this case were all appointed by Republican presidents.
Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families.
Among other provisions, the Protect Life Rule requires that there be a physical and financial separation between recipients of Title X funds and facilities that perform abortions. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion can still receive funds.
Previous regulations, written during the presidency of Bill Clinton, allowed for health clinics that were co-located with abortion facilities to receive funds, and required that Title X recipients refer patients for abortions.
As a result of Thursday’s ruling, Title X fund recipients are immediately prevented from referring patients for abortion services. By March 2020, health clinics must be located separately from abortion facilities in order to be eligible for Title X funding.
Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, promised to appeal the court’s decision.