A federal judge in Oregon has issued a temporary nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s requirement that recipients of Title X family planning funds be separate from abortion facilities.
U.S. District Judge Michael McShane of Eugene, Oregon, blocked the changes from taking effect. In his Monday ruling, he called the new regulation “a solution in search of a problem” and a “a ham-fisted approach to health policy that recklessly disregards the health outcomes of women, families, and communities.”
The state of Oregon was joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, as well as Planned Parenthood Federation and the American Medical Association in challenging the regulation, known as the Protect Life Rule.
A federal judge in Washington state issued a similar nationwide preliminary injunction last week, saying that the new rule represented “no public interest” and was an unlawful policy on the part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The policy change had been scheduled to go into effect on May 3, revising the Title X program, which subsidizes family-planning measures and related products, including contraception, for low-income families. Created in 1965, the federal program has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.
Among other provisions, the Protect Life Rule requires that there be a physical and financial separation between recipients of Title X funds and facilities that perform abortions. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion can still receive funds.
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest performer of abortions, was set to lose about $60 million in federal funding due to the rule change. Planned Parenthood receives about half a billion dollars in federal funds each year, including money from Title X.
The Protect Life Rule did not reduce the amount of federal funding available through the Title X program, but only restricted how the funds could be allocated.
The injunctions mean that the rule will not go into effect while the cases are heard in courts.
Oregon Right to Life defended the new regulations last week, saying they align more closely with the program’s original goal.
The revised rules “would ensure that family-planning funds go towards actual family-planning, not killing members of families,” said Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life.
“Abortion is not healthcare nor is it family-planning,” Anderson continued. “However, abortion is big business. Planned Parenthood performs almost 40 percent of abortions in the country. They have a financial interest in keeping Title X funding coming their way.”
Also on Monday, House Democrats released a new spending bill that includes a provision to block the Title X changes from going into effect, presenting the threat of another government shutdown if the House and Republican-led Senate cannot agree on government funding before the current spending bill expires at the end of September.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, argued that the Protect Life Rule represents “the will of the American people to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry.”
“We urge the House Appropriations Committee to remove this anti-life poison pill amendment to nullify the Protect Life Rule,” she said in an April 30 statement.
“President Trump has vowed to veto any legislation that would weaken existing pro-life protections,” she added.