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Appeals Court Upholds Trump Ban on Abortion Referrals by Family Planning Clinics

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., June 2018 (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday in favor of a Trump administration rule barring taxpayer-funded family planning organizations from referring women to abortion clinics.

The court’s 7-4 decision reverses the rulings of three judges in Oregon, Washington and California. According to the Trump administration’s policy, family planning clinics in the federal Title X program for low-income women may not refer patients for abortions.

Starting March 4, the policy will also bar Title X clinics that receive federal funding from sharing office space with abortion clinics. Title X clinics provide birth control and reproductive care, along with other services such as breast cancer screenings and HIV testing.

Judge Sandra S. Ikuta in the decision cited the Supreme Court’s 1998 ruling in favor of similar policies put in place by the Reagan administration.

“In light of Supreme Court approval of the 1988 regulations and our broad deference to agencies’ interpretations of the statutes they are charged with implementing, plaintiffs’ legal challenges to the 2019 rule fail,” Ikuta wrote.

In the dissent, Judge Richard Paez wrote that the administration’s policy would allow “a government bureaucrat [to] restrict a medical professional from informing a patient of the full range of health care options available to her.”

“Today’s ruling is a vindication of President Trump’s pro-life policies and a victory for the American people,” read a statement from Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. “Abortion is not ‘family planning’ and a strong majority of Americans–including 42 percent of Independents and more than one third of Democrats–oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. President Trump’s Protect Life Rule honors their will.”

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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