A federal court has issued a ruling upholding 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.
A federal judge has issued a ruling turning back one of those lawsuits.
Maine Family Planning, the state’s only direct recipient of the federal Title X funds, in March 2019 sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but U.S. District Judge Lance Walker disagreed with its contention that the pro-life rule violates its free speech rights but preventing it from promoting abortion. Judge Walker found that the “rule authorizes nondirective counseling, including abortion counseling; it only prohibits an abortion referral.”
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It was the second time Walker, a Trump appointee, allowed the rule to remain in place. Last July, the judge refused to issue an injunction against the rule being followed in Maine.
Emily Nestler, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who represents Maine Family Planning in the lawsuit, said Tuesday that Walker’s decision might be appealed to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as “possible legal avenues to keep fighting this unlawful policy” are considered.
In March 2019, Maine Family Planning’s annual operating budget was between $7.5 million and $8 million. It received a little more than $2 million in Title X money each year, which was disbursed to its 18 owner-operated health care centers across the state. Lesser amounts were earmarked for partner groups, such as Planned Parenthood.
Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated orders entered by federal courts in California, Oregon, and Washington that blocked enforcement of the rule at the behest of pro-abortion elected officials in those states. Although a final decision remains on the rule itself, the appellate court upheld the enforcement of it in the meantime.
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 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.