SAN FRANCISCO - The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday that a new Title X rule banning organizations in receipt of funds from co-locating with abortion facilities can go into effect. Planned Parenthood called the decision “devastating” and “crushing news.”
The court refused to grant an emergency stay of its June 20 decision allowing the rule to be enforced.
The decision was 7-4. All four dissenting judges were appointed by Democrats, and the seven in the majority were appointed by Republicans.
This decision means that organizations that receive Title X family planning funds must maintain a physical and financial separation from facilities that perform abortions. 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 continued funding.
Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion can still receive funds.
Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.
The new rule is expected to strip about $60 million in federal funds from Planned Parenthood, although the organization will still receive about $500 million in other federal programs.
“We are greatly encouraged to see the 9th Circuit rule in favor of allowing President Trump’s Protect Life Rule to take effect while it continues to be litigated,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List.
“A strong majority of Americans have consistently voiced their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion – it is even unpopular among Democrats and self-described pro-choice Americans,” said Dannenfelser.
“Without reducing Title X funding by a dime, the Protect Life Rule simply draws a bright line between abortion and family planning, stopping abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from treating Title X as their private slush fund.”
Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen tweeted that her organization was “incredibly concerned the panel did not recognize the harm of the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule” and that she “will not stop fighting for the millions across the country in need of care.”
In late February, the Trump Administration finalized the Protect Life Rule, which created the new eligibility requirements for Title X fund recipients.
Shortly after the policy was announced, several states sued in an attempt to prevent it from going into effect. Acting together, California, Washington, and Oregon received a preliminary injunction that blocked the rule from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit’s decision overturned that injunction, finding the rule a "reasonable" interpretation of federal law.
A previous version of the policy was enacted in 1988 and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court three years later. When President Bill Clinton became president in 1993, his administration changed the policy to make abortion providers eligible for funding.
Planned Parenthood currently receives about one fifth of the total Title X funds.
On Twitter, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying arm of Planned Parenthood, tweeted “Crushing news from the Ninth Circuit: the illegal, dangerous, and unethical Title X gag rule can go into effect across the country.”
“This is what taking away birth control & other health care, and allowing the government to censor doctors and nurses looks like,” they added.
The Protect Life Rule does not contain any new regulations on who can receive birth control or health care, nor does it reduce the amount of funds allocated for Title X.