Washington Judge Blocks Trump's 'Protect Life Rule'

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Posted: Apr 26, 2019 3:30 PM
Washington Judge Blocks Trump's 'Protect Life Rule'

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

A federal judge in Washington state granted a preliminary nationwide injunction Thursday, blocking the Trump administration’s abortion clinic referral restriction otherwise known as Title X.

The revised regulations to the Title X program, collectively referred to as the “Protect Life Rule,” would prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with patients, or referring patients to abortion providers. The new rules were slated to go into effect May 3.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Title X program serves approximately 4 million people each year. Clinics not abiding by what opponents have referred to as a “gag rule” would have to forgo federal funding.

"Today's ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a news release.

"Trump's 'gag rule' would have jeopardized healthcare access to women across the country," Ferguson continued. "Title X clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, provide essential services -- now they can keep serving women while we continue to fight to keep the federal government out of the exam room."

In March, Ferguson filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking a federal court to block the administration's "gag rule" before it went into effect.

Twenty-two states also sued over the administration's changes to Title X.

In February, a group of 19 medical organizations representing 4.3 million health care providers signed a letter protesting the revisions. The health care providers represented include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

But not everyone is happy about the injunction. Pro-life advocates had heralded the Protect Life Rule as a positive step towards defunding abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. 

“Abortion is not healthcare, and that’s how we evaluate these kinds of decisions,” Todd Cooper, executive director of the Oregon Catholic Conference, told Catholic News Agency.

“Coming from that perspective, it’s troubling,” he said. “I ask myself: why would medical professionals want to refer women to something that would cause untold harm and result in the death of a child?”

Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, agreed.

“Abortion is not healthcare nor is it family-planning,” she said in an April 24 statement, characterizing abortion as “big business.”

“Planned Parenthood performs almost 40 percent of abortions in the country. They have a financial interest in keeping Title X funding coming their way,” she said. She believes the new set of regulations would not cut money from family planning, and merely “reflects the original intent of the program: helping people plan their families.”

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, was projected to lose roughly $60 million in federal funds due to its noncompliance with the Protect Life Rule.

Cooper admitted that pro-life advocates are facing some difficult obstacles right now.

“It’s just a challenge out here, because abortion supporters really want unfettered access to abortion,” he said. “They want to force this on society, they want to force this on women, they even want to force this on medical professionals.”