Trump Moves to Withdraw Funds, Impose Gag Order on Abortion Providers

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks at a news conference announcing a lawsuit chal

Trump's Abortion 'Gag Rule' Met With First Legal Challenge

Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. They expect to succeed in court this time, they say - pointing to protections enacted in the 2010 Affordable Care Act and changes made by Congress in the mid-1990s in bills that fund Title X.

Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson announced plans to sue the Trump administration over the rule it announced Friday barring physicians and other healthcare providers from mentioning the possibility of abortion to pregnant women seeking reproductive healthcare at any clinic funded under Title X, even if the woman specifically asks about abortion. "We've filed 17 cases against this administration", Ferguson said. But conservative groups argue that since many Planned Parenthood affiliates receiving Title X support also provide abortions, the federal family planning money could be improperly commingled with funds used for the procedure.

Under the program, which serves about 4 million women annually, two-thirds of whom have incomes at or below the federal poverty level.

This will leave 11 counties in the state without any Title X providers, leaving some patients to travel hundreds of miles to get family planning care, he said, adding that the rule violates a provision of the ACA that bars anything which creates unreasonable barriers to individuals from obtaining appropriate medical care.

Wimes concluded in the decision that "the record does not provide a basis in evidence to approximate the number of women who will forego or postpone surgical abortion incidental to the inoperability of the Columbia Facility".

The new legislation would also prohibit clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers as well as require stricter financial separation.

For the most recent grant cycle, which runs from April 2018 through late March of this year, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England received $2.4 million in Title X funding, its president and CEO, Amanda Skinner, said. It is slated to go into effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

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The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association said it would sue separately.

State Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), a vocal advocate for women's health, also denounced the move and urged the Trump administration to "stop playing politics" with woman's health.

Other groups have threatened legal action against the gag rule.

For example, the letter said, HHS "declined to deem the Title X rule economically significant - completely disregarding the considerable health-related costs the rule would impose - and failed to conduct a comprehensive regulatory impact analysis". "Let's be clear, the administration is preventing health care providers from giving their patients full and accurate information about all of their options, literally "gagging" doctors", she said.

Leah Litman, an assistant professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, said the now more conservative Supreme Court might not necessarily accept those arguments, as well as others likely to be raised.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final regulation February 24 that bars the use of Title X money "to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning".

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