A second federal judge has blocked a Trump administration rule that prohibits the use of taxpayer family planning funds to “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.”
Judge Stanley Bastian of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, granted a preliminary injunction Thursday, allowing Planned Parenthood to continue to receive millions of dollars in taxpayer funding under the Title X family planning grant program.
The Trump administration’s rule, set to go into effect on May 3, reinstated President Ronald Reagan’s “Protect Life Rule,” which bars the “co-location” of federally funded family planning clinics and abortion clinics.
“Today’s ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement announcing the decision.
Trump’s ‘gag rule’ would have jeopardized healthcare access to women across the country. Title X clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, provide essential services – now they can keep serving women while we continue to fight to keep the federal government out of the exam room.
In his announcement of the ruling, the attorney general quoted the judge’s statement: “There is no public interest in perpetuating unlawful agency action.”
Ferguson’s office boasted the attorney general “has filed 35 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case.”
The state of Washington brought the suit along with the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA).
On Tuesday, Judge Michael J. McShane of U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, also an Obama-era appointee, issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration, favoring Oregon, 19 other states, and the District of Columbia – all of which joined together in another lawsuit.
McShane called the Trump administration’s rule a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy, one that emphasizes a political issue over Title X’s stated goal of reducing unintended pregnancies,” reported Courthouse News Service.
The Trump administration’s rule, however, does not cut any funding from the Title X family planning program – only from providers that perform or refer for abortions.
The funds are still distributed to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), which actually outnumber abortion facilities 20 to 1 and provide more comprehensive services to allow low-income women, men, and families to receive healthcare services in a location other than an abortion clinic.
Other lawsuits against the policy were heard last week in California and this week in Maine.
The new rule would block about $60 million in family planning funding to Planned Parenthood because it provides and refers for abortions.
Under the policy, Planned Parenthood and other abortion vendors who wish to continue to receive Title X family planning funds may do so if they choose either to end their abortion services from all locations that receive the Title X funding or move those abortion services offsite to an entirely different location.
Pro-life leaders celebrated the rule when it was announced in February.
“President Trump’s HHS is taking a major step toward the ultimate goal of ending taxpayers’ forced partnership with the abortion industry,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a statement. “The finalized ‘protect life rule’ draws a bright line between abortion and family planning programs — just as the federal law requires and the Supreme Court has upheld.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini also said in a statement that “abortion is neither healthcare nor family planning – which is why the Title X program has no business funding it.”