The often-criticized U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed a major victory to pro-lifers and the White House Thursday when it ruled the Trump administration can enforce a new rule that could result in Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers losing tens of millions of dollars.
The president of Planned Parenthood called the ruling “devastating news.”
At issue is federal money for Title X, a $300 million family-planning program for birth control, cancer screenings and STD testing.
The new rule by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), supporters say, ensures that none of the money goes toward promoting abortion or conducting abortion. Critics call it the “gag rule.”
Planned Parenthood receives an estimated $60 million annually in Title X funding.
In June, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit allowed the rule to go into effect while the lawsuit from Planned Parenthood and others goes forward. Then, an 11-judge Ninth Circuit panel earlier this month announced it would hear an appeal. On Thursday, that same 11-judge panel ruled the earlier order by the three-judge panel would remain in effect – thus allowing the Trump administration to enforce the new HHS rule.
“After due consideration of the emergency motions, the motions for administrative stay of the three-judge panel order are DENIED,” the ruling said.
The 7-4 decision means a majority of the 11 judges believe the Trump administration likely will win on the merits of the case. All seven judges who allowed the rule to go into effect were nominated by Republicans (four by George W. Bush, two by Trump and one by Reagan). The four dissenting votes came from Democratic-nominated judges (all by Clinton).
Title X funding, though, is only a portion of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding from state and federal governments. It receives more than $500 million each year in government grants and reimbursements – most of which are Medicaid reimbursements. It had $1.6 billion in total revenue in 2018.
Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the Ninth Circuit ruling “devastating news.”
“While we are incredibly concerned the panel did not recognize the harm of the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule, we will not stop fighting for the millions across the country in need for care,” Wen said. “Planned Parenthood will keep fighting to block this dangerous rule that allows the government to censor our doctors and nurses from doing their jobs.”
Wen earlier this year said Planned Parenthood’s “core mission is providing, protecting and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care.”
Planned Parenthood performed 332,757 abortions last year, which accounts for one-third to one-half of all abortions in the United States.
Pro-life groups applauded the Ninth Circuit decision.
“Abortion is not family planning. It’s time to stop Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities from using Title X as their private blood money fund,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “I commend President Trump for his commitment to protect the sanctity of human life, the rights of conscience, and religious freedom by revising the regulations for the Title X family planning program.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Olivier Douliery/Stringer
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.