WASHINGTON – A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday granted the Trump administration’s request to lift state and nationwide injunctions, allowing the Protect Life Rule to take effect while court cases proceed. The rule advances President Trump’s promise to stop taxpayer funding of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, who will no longer receive Title X funding if they choose not to comply.
The ruling comes as pro-abortion Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on Wednesday entitled “Protecting Title X and Safeguarding Quality Family Planning Care.”
The decision allows the Trump Administration to implement Title X regulations that redirect millions of federal taxpayer dollars away from the abortion industry. The ruling affirms the rule announced in February 2019 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The revision clarified and affirmed the Title X prohibition on funding of abortions by money meant for family planning. In April, federal judges in California, Washington, and Oregon blocked the Title X regulations when those states sued HHS for the right to continue subsidizing abortion providers, even though it is prohibited by federal law. The rule was set to take effect in May.
The Title X grants, first enacted in 1970, have never legally funded abortions or abortion referrals. The taxpayer-funded federal program’s goal has always been to provide certain types of pre-pregnancy family planning services, including birth control.
Pro-life groups applauded the ruling.
“Title X has always prohibited the use of its funds by programs where abortion is a method of family planning,” explained Sarah Pitlyk, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, who filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List). “The now reaffirmed regulations simply enforced those terms, ensuring that taxpayer funds will only be used for permitted purposes. The Thomas More Society will continue to support the goal of ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not support the abortion industry.”
“This ruling is a victory for the majority of Americans who do not want to fund the abortion industry with their tax dollars. The voters have consistently voiced their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion – it is even unpopular among self-described ‘pro-choice’ Americans. The Protect Life Rule simply draws a bright line between abortion and family planning, stopping abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood from treating Title X as their private slush fund without reducing funding by a dime,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said.
“We applaud the 9th Circuit for applying the rule of law by allowing this reasonable policy to be reinstated,” stated National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “This rule makes clear that abortion is not family planning.”
In prohibiting publicly funded programs from promoting abortion, Title X is consistent with a number of federal laws favoring childbirth over abortion. For example, the Hyde Amendment bars the use of Medicaid funds for abortion, and the Coates-Snow and Weldon Amendments provide special protections for health care providers who decline to facilitate or provide abortions. Title X applies the same preference for childbirth over abortion in the context of taxpayer-funded family planning services.
Under the Protect Life Rule, abortion centers cannot operate as taxpayer-funded family planning centers. Additionally, Title X locations cannot perform abortions or make abortion referrals. Title X providers are not prohibited from providing neutral, nondirective counseling about abortion and this law does not prevent anyone from obtaining Title X services. It does not reduce family planning funding but directs tax dollars to Title X centers that do not promote or perform abortions.
A Marist poll in January of this year found that, by a double-digit margin, a majority of all Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion (54 percent to 39 percent).
Read the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Per Curium Order issued June 20, 2019, in four separate State of California et al v. Azar, et al cases, below.