CNA Staff, Sep 4, 2020 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- A federal court of appeals this week ruled against the Trump administration’s requirement that Title X recipients may not perform or refer for abortions.
In an 8-6 ruling Thursday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier injunction against the enforcement of the federal Protect Life Rule in Maryland.
The Protect Life Rule, created by the Trump administration, prohibits recipients of Title X family planning funds from referring for or performing abortions. It requires Title X fund recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that provide abortions.
“Nondirective counseling” about abortion is still permissible under the new rules, which pro-life advocates have praised as a commonsense way to ensure enforcement of already-existing rules against taxpayer money being used for abortions.
Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations. Title X does not pay for abortions, but recipients have in the past been able to refer patients for abortion.
The Protect Life Rule does not reduce the amount of available Title X funding, but clarifies eligibility to receiving the funding.
After the new rules were announced, Planned Parenthood said it was exiting the Title X program in order to continue performing abortions.
Planned Parenthood had been receiving about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed, and withdrawing from the program means a $60 million cut in federal funding for the organization each year.
Planned Parenthood still receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.
In its ruling Thursday, the appeals court said the Protect Life Rule was “arbitrary and capricious, being inadequately justified and objectionably unreasonable.” It said every medical association in the country opposed the rule.
The dissenting opinion argued that the rule is “well within HHS’s established statutory authority.”
“The Supreme Court has already ruled that the regulations fall inside the scope of Title X’s broad mandate,” the dissenting opinion said. “The ‘new’ Rule substantially returns the Title X regulations to the version that HHS adopted in 1988, and which the Supreme Court upheld as a permissible interpretation of Title X in Rust v. Sullivan.”