Federal Appeals Court Blocks Trump’s Pro-Life Rule Defunding Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2020   |   11:48AM   |   Washington, DC

A federal appeals court has issued a ruling blocking enforcement of a pro-life rule instituted by President Donald Trump protecting Americans from having to fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business. The rule shut down one of the many avenues for federal taxpayer funds that Planned Parenthood has accessed over the years.

Title X grants fund family planning services for low-income individuals and, to direct tax dollars to legitimate organizations and away from the Planned Parenthood abortion company, the Trump administration finalized a new rule that prohibits recipients from providing or promoting abortions.

The “Protect Life” rule requires Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to completely separate their abortion businesses from their taxpayer-funded services. That mean housing their family planning services in separate buildings with separate staff from their abortion businesses and a denial of funds if they fail to do so. Planned Parenthood refused to comply and lost its federal funding.

But the abortion giant, several states and the city of Baltimore sued to overturn the Trump rule.

The ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals comes just weeks after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule and allowed the Trump administration to defund the abortion giant. With the conflicting rulings, the likelihood is increased that the Supreme Court will need to step in and resolve the legal conflict.

The ruling appears to carve out a one-state exception, disallowing the Trump administration from enforcing the rule on Planned Parenthood abortion centers in the state of Markyland, since they were behind the suit that the 4th Circuit decided. As National Review reports, “This latest decision from the Fourth Circuit makes Maryland the one state where the Protect Life rule cannot take effect while the legal challenge is pending.”

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In his decision blocking the policy, prior to this latest ruling from the Fourth Circuit, district judge Richard D. Bennett wrote, “Literally every major medical organization in the United States has opposed implementation of this rule. There is almost no professional support for its implementation.” Bennett appears to have forgotten that a judge’s role is not to assess whether various public institutions support or oppose a policy but rather to determine whether that policy is imposed lawfully and in line with previous precedent.

It was this absurd decision that the Fourth Circuit upheld late last week, ignoring the fact that, as the Ninth Circuit opinion acknowledged, the Title X rule is less restrictive than a 1988 version of the same policy that the Supreme Court upheld. The Ninth Circuit’s deviation from its typical support for unlimited abortion rights was a welcome surprise; the Fourth Circuit’s choice to play to type is disappointing.

The rule doesn’t require doctors or nurses to withhold information. It merely prevents Planned Parenthood from promoting abortion using taxpayer funds.

The abortion chain sees about 1.5 million a year through Title X, and its services through the program, including cancer screenings, birth control, etc., have been dropping steadily for years, according to its own annual reports. Meanwhile, its abortion numbers have been growing – a clear indication of its true focus.

Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million a year through Title X. However, the first grant announcement under the new rule showed a $44 million cut to Planned Parenthood’s funding.

Planned Parenthood is choosing not to comply with the rule by making abortion its “core mission.” The abortion chain could continue to receive Title X funds if it stops aborting unborn babies or if it completely separates its abortion business from the real health care services it provides. But Planned Parenthood made it clear that it will not.

Meanwhile, community health centers vastly outnumber Planned Parenthoods and provide far more comprehensive medical services to low-income and minority women across the country. They still have access to those funds, assuring that low-income individuals still will have a options for their medical needs.

What success the lawsuits will have remains uncertain. In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar rule by 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.