NRL News

Trump Administration changes to Title X upheld by appeals court

by | Jun 20, 2019

Lifts national injunction

By Dave Andrusko

Now, this is what I call a lead sentence, written by Alice Miranda Ollstein, for POLITICO:

A federal appeals court this morning said the Trump administration’s family planning rules can take effect nationwide while several lawsuits play out, delivering a major blow to Planned Parenthood and states challenging the overhaul.

As NRL News Today reported on multiple occasions, the rule change made by HHS restored–emphasis on restored–Title X family planning regulations to prohibit grantees from co-locating with abortion clinics, or from referring clients for abortion. Nothing to do with cutting family planning money—none was cut—but everything to do with ensuring that health facilities receiving Title X funds do not perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning.

The effect of the decision rendered by three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was to “lift a national injunctions ordered by lower federal courts in Oregon and Washington state, as well as a statewide injunction in California,” Ollstein explained.

The commonsense core of the unanimous decision is that because the Supreme Court upheld similar Reagan-era rules almost 30 years ago, the Trump administration would likely prevail. “Absent a stay, HHS will be forced to allow taxpayer dollars to be spent in a manner that it has concluded violates the law, as well as the Government’s important policy interest in ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not go to fund or subsidize abortions,” the judges wrote.

Opponents, led by Planned Parenthood, unimaginatively described the separation as a “”domestic gag rule.” When HHS issued its final rule back on February 22, Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen called reporters to complain, “Planned Parenthood cannot participate in a program that would force our providers to compromise our ethics.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who in addition to being pro-abortion is one of the 20+ Democratic presidential candidate, said his state is still evaluating legal options.

According to Ollstein, Inslee spokesperson Casey Katims issued a statement saying “We are prepared to take every necessary action to protect our family planning program and women’s access to healthcare in Washington state.”

“Parts of the rule, such as no longer being able to provide abortion referrals, would go into effect immediately,” the Washington Post’s Ariana Eunjung Cha reported. “Other aspects, such as physically separating abortion services from non-abortion services, would have to be done by Mar. 4, 2020.”


What is absolutely fascinating, of course, is that the U.S. Supreme Court found similar regulations permissible 28 years ago in its 1991Rust v. Sullivan decision. There were clear reasons why the High Court upheld the regulations.

When Congress created Title X in 1970, it was to be a preventative family planning program. Congress wrote language into the statute to ensure the program did not directly–or indirectly–promote abortion.

Then came Roe v. Wade and pro-abortion administrations. At first Title X grantees were permitted, then required, to routinely refer all pregnant women regarding abortion as a “pregnancy management option.” For all practical purposes, some Title X grantees treated abortion as “a method of family planning,” despite the statutory prohibition. In a word the original language had become a dead letter.

Then came the Reagan Administration. With National Right to Life’s strong support, regulations were issued to restore the original character of Title X. Abortion referrals were prohibited except in life endangering circumstances. Additionally, abortion facilities could not generally share the same location with a Title X site.

“However, they were never implemented because of repeated delays, and the Clinton administration later scrapped them,” Ollstein reported.

Categories: Judicial
Tags: Title X