Planned Parenthood, in conjunction with the American Medical Association and other healthcare providers, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Trump administration’s ban on Title X programs receiving federal funding for abortions.
The petition emerged in light of conflicting decisions from the Fourth and Ninth Circuits. The Fourth Circuit determined that Title X programs should receive funding and that the Trump administration’s rule, called “Protect Life,” was illegal. The Ninth Court, however, upheld the rule.
When Trump signed the new restrictions into law in 2019, Planned Parenthood and several other nonprofits left the Title X program in order to continue providing abortions. Nearly 1,000 Title X sites shuttered their doors as a result, while Planned Parenthood saw a 21% decrease in annual patients, according to The Christian Post.
“Restricting the information that physicians can provide to their Title X patients blocks honest, informed conversations about all health care options—an unconscionable violation that is essentially a gag rule,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the AMA. “As physicians and leaders in medicine, we are fighting against the government’s intrusion in the exam room while protecting open communication between patients and physicians, which is the foundation of high-quality medical care.”
Planned Parenthood also believes the “Protect Life” rule hurts minorities, stating that “people who have always faced systemic barriers to health care—including those in rural areas, as well as black, Latino, and indigenous communities—have suffered the most. Health care should never come down to how much you earn or where you live.”
However, pro-life advocates applauded the rule for its work to divert taxpayer funds and “stay out of the abortion business,” according to Marjorie Dannenfelse, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
“Women have the most to gain from this news,” she said in 2019. “With community health alternatives vastly outnumbering Planned Parenthood facilities nationwide, on average, these health centers would see an additional two clients per week. This is a huge win for women’s health.”
Two factors may determine the fate of the petition: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s presumptive appointment to the Court and the presidential election. Barrett has a long history of conservative opinions on abortion while Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has pledged to overturn the “Protect Life” rule and restore federal funding to Planned Parenthood.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrew Burton/Staff
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.