The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up three abortion-related cases from the Trump era that could impact the future of federal funding of abortion providers.
The question in all three cases involves a Trump-era Department of Health and Human Services rule that prevented Title X money from going to health clinics that “perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.” It also required recipients to financially and physically separate their abortion services from their non-abortion services.
Title X is a federal family-planning program that provides low-income people with cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and contraceptives.
Planned Parenthood, which received about $60 million annually from Title X, chose to pull out of the program. It then joined other like-minded groups and a coalition of states in suing the federal government to overturn the rule.
Although the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule, the 4th Circuit struck it down, creating a split among the federal circuits.
The Biden administration is expected to restore Title X funding to the clinics. Still, a Supreme Court decision favoring the rule could empower a future pro-life president to once again pull the funding to clinics that perform and promote abortions.
Opponents called it the “gag rule,” while supporters dubbed it the “protect life rule.”
Alliance Defending Freedom applauded the Supreme Court for taking the cases. ADF, which is representing two pro-life medical associations, filed a friend-of-the-court brief last year defending the ruling.
“No court can substitute its own policy views for the views of the elected branches of government,” said ADF senior counsel John Bursch. “For that reason, this case is important regardless of the fact that we have a new administration. The Supreme Court has already recognized that the federal government has the authority to prevent Title X funds from being used for abortion. Now the court’s guidance is needed to make clear that any administration, including future ones, can enforce a rule like this one if it so chooses, and that the courts can’t interfere with that. … The Supreme Court should affirm that HHS has the authority to issue a rule that the high court already deemed constitutional.”
The cases are American Medical Association v. Cochran, Cochran v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, and Oregon v. Cochran.
The date for oral arguments has not been set.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Brian PIrwin
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.