9th Circuit upholds Title X rules denying funds to health facilities that perform or promote abortion

By Dave Andrusko

Can’t say I saw this one coming. The notoriously pro-abortion 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today rejected emergency bids to temporarily set aside a June 20 decision rendered by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit that allowed the Trump administration’s family planning rules to go effect.

Ridiculed as a “gag rule,” in fact the change made by HHS restored–emphasis on restored–Title X family planning regulations to prohibit grantees from co-locating with abortion clinics, or from referring clients for abortion. It had nothing to do with cutting family planning money—none was cut—but everything to do with ensuring that health facilities receiving Title X funds do not perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning.

The commonsense core of the unanimous three-judge panel decision is that because the Supreme Court upheld similar Reagan-era rules almost 30 years ago, the Trump administration would likely prevail. “Absent a stay, 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 judges wrote. The rule was a “reasonable interpretation” of Title X, and supported the government’s “important policy interest” in ensuring that taxpayer dollars not fund or subsidize abortions.”

The effect of the decision was to “lift a national injunctions ordered by lower federal courts in Oregon and Washington state, as well as a statewide injunction in California,” according to POLITICO.

“The Ninth Circuit subsequently agreed to re-hear the administration’s request for a stay, but its new order makes clear that for now, the stay remains in place,” according to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The emergency stay “had been sought by some abortion rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood, and by 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia,” Reuters reported. The vote against the emergency stay was 7-4.