A federal judge appointed by pro-abortion President Barack Obama issued a ruling today keeping taxpayer funding flowing to Planned Parenthood by blocking a new pro-life rule from the Trump administration.
U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Bastian, an Obama appointee, issued an injunction staying the changes from taking effect while several other legal challenges proceed. His temporary block applies nationwide. Pro-abortion attorneys general in 20 states and Washington, D.C. filed the lawsuit, arguing that the rule would hurt Planned Parenthood and other abortion companies and violate the Affordable Care Act.
The new rules were slated to take effect May 3.
Bastian heard several hours of arguments Thursday from Washington state and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association challenging the administration’s Title X funding rule.
“The president’s relentless assault on women’s health is being fought with the full force of the law here in Washington state,” Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said in a statement after the oral arguments. “We will not allow this or any presidential administration to take women’s constitutional rights away, and we will not allow doctors and nurses to be silenced when it comes to giving patients the information and medical care they need.”
The ruling comes just two days after another federal judge in Oregon announced his intent to put the new rules on hold, siding with a coalition of Democratic attorneys general, Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association.
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The Trump administration countered that the Supreme Court upheld a similar Title X rule issued by the Reagan administration that was never fully implemented, and that a handful of provisions in the Affordable Care Act that do not explicitly mention abortion cannot override that precedent. The Justice Department also argued the rule is justified because, despite a longstanding ban on federal funding for abortions, groups like Planned Parenthood could “co-mingle” their federal income for contraceptive services and screenings with other funding used for abortion.
Title X funds help low-income women and men receive birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and other health care services. While the tax money cannot be used to pay for abortions, it indirectly funds Planned Parenthood’s vast abortion business by about $60 million a year.
The new “Protect Life” rule prohibits Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses from receiving Title X tax dollars unless they completely separate their abortion practices from their taxpayer-funded services. That mean housing their family planning services in separate buildings with separate staff from their abortion businesses. Planned Parenthood already has said it will not comply.
What success the lawsuits ultimately will have remains uncertain. In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar rule from President Ronald Reagan’s administration in Rust v. Sullivan. However, because of the lengthy legal challenge, the rule never went into effect; pro-abortion President Bill Clinton eliminated the rule when he took office soon after the Supreme Court decision.
A recent Marist poll found that, by a double-digit margin, a majority of all Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion (54 percent to 39 percent).
In late March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its first Title X grant awards under the new policy, and Planned Parenthood received about $44 million less than it had in previous years.
Meanwhile, the pro-life Obria Group will receive $1.7 million a year in Title X grants to provide comprehensive family planning services to low-income individuals in California. Its services include pregnancy testing and counseling, prenatal care, HIV/AIDS testing, ultrasounds, cancer testing, well-woman care, pap smears, STD testing and treatment, adoption referral and post-abortion support, according to Townhall.