Liberal Ninth Circuit Upholds Trump Admin's Rules on Abortion Funding

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Posted: Feb 24, 2020 6:25 PM
Liberal Ninth Circuit Upholds Trump Admin's Rules on Abortion Funding

Source: AP Photo/Steve Helber

The liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled the Trump administration's decision to withhold Title X funding from medical facilities that provide abortion is constitutional. Their decision overturned preliminary injunctions issued by lower courts in three different states, Fox News reported. 

The Title X rule was first enacted in 1970, which prohibited taxpayer-funded abortions as "a method of family planning." During President Ronald Reagan's administration in 1988, "merely provid[ing] counseling or referrals for abortion for family-planning purposes" fell under this limitation. The Supreme Court upheld those rules in a 1991 decision.

The regulations were more lax until 2019 when the Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services decided to pull funding from any facility that provides abortions, abortion counseling or abortion referrals.

"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," Judge Sandra S. Ikuta wrote in the court's opinion. "Accordingly, we vacate the injunctions entered by the district courts and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."

The three-judge panel also stated the 1988 rules were more restrictive. Specifically, the Trump administration gave leeway on counseling that may inadvertently address abortion, saying "a counselor providing nondirective pregnancy counseling 'may discuss abortion' so long as 'the counselor neither refers for, nor encourages, abortion.'"

Pro-life groups applauded the decision.

Today’s ruling is a vindication of President Trump’s pro-life policies and a victory for the American people,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “Abortion is not ‘family planning’ and a strong majority of Americans – including 42 percent of Independents and more than one third of Democrats – oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. President Trump’s Protect Life Rule honors their will and the plain language of the Title X statute by stopping the funneling of Title X taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry, without reducing family planning funding by a dime. We thank President Trump and HHS Secretary Azar for their strong pro-life leadership and look forward to the end of further frivolous litigation by the abortion lobby.”

Americans United for Life is "grateful that the court of appeals has seen through the false cries of the abortion industry and upheld a rule that protects women’s health as well as taxpayer’s consciences," President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster told the Daily Caller. “We look forward to the implementation of the rule in a way that ensures that no public funding is ever used for elective abortions."

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion past 20 weeks.