U.S. appeals court upholds Trump rules involving abortions

  • FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Las Vegas. A U.S. appeals court has upheld the Trump administration's rules imposing more hurdles for women seeking abortions. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision Monday, Feb. 24 overturns decisions that had been issued by judges in Washington, Oregon and California. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) Patrick Semansky

Associated Press
Published: 2/24/2020 5:55:14 PM

A U.S. appeals court on Monday upheld Trump administration rules that bar health care providers in the federal family planning program for low-income women from referring patients for abortions.

The 7-4 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned decisions issued by judges in Washington, Oregon and California. The court had already allowed the administration’s changes to begin taking effect while the government appealed those rulings.

The changes ban taxpayer-funded clinics in the Title X program from making abortion referrals, a restriction opponents characterize as a “gag rule.” They also prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers, which critics said would force many Title X providers to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down – reducing access to the program.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of Title X or other taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman. Under Title X, a 1970 law designed to improve access to family planning services, federal money may not be used in programs “where abortion is a method of family planning.”

Abortion rights supporters and opponents have argued over the decades whether counseling a patient about abortion or referring a patient to a different provider for an abortion violates that language. Abortion opponents and religious conservatives say Title X has long been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.

“Congress has long prohibited the use of Title X funds in programs where abortion is a method of family planning and (the Department of Health and Human Service’s) recent rule makes that longstanding prohibition a reality,” U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman Mollie Timmons said. “We look forward to continuing to defend this vital rule against all challenges.”




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