An appeals court has denied a request by 12 Republican-led states to block a Biden administration rule that allows family planning clinics receiving federal money to promote abortion.
At issue are funds for Title X, a federal family-planning program for low-income patients.
The 12 states, led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, sued the Biden administration last year, seeking to restore Trump-era rules that blocked Title X money from going to family-planning clinics that perform, promote or make referrals for abortion. The Trump rules also required recipients to financially and physically separate their abortion services from their non-abortion services.
But a federal court judge last year upheld the Biden rules, and on Tuesday, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals also declined to block the administration’s policy.
The Biden policy restored the policy of the Obama administration.
Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X program during the Trump administration but began receiving the funds again when the Biden administration changed it.
Yost argued that the Biden rules conflict with federal law that prohibits taxpayer money from funding abortion. The Trump policy, Yost’s office said, built “walls to prevent the funding of abortion with taxpayer money.”
“You can’t ‘follow the money’ when all the money is dumped into one pot and mixed together,” Yost said last year when he filed suit. “Federal law prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion – and that law means nothing if the federal money isn’t kept separate. That, frankly, is the real reason behind the rule.”
The lawsuit asserted that federal law prohibits “funds appropriated under” Title X from being “used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
“Title X says that its funds may not be used to support abortion, even indirectly,” the lawsuit says. “This case presents the question whether the [Biden policy], by eliminating meaningful financial- and physical-separation requirements and by requiring Title X grantees to provide abortion referrals, violates [federal law]. The answer is ‘yes.’”
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court could be the next step.
Photo courtesy: Bofu Shaw/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.