Appeals court upholds Trump administration’s Title X ‘Protect Life Rule’

Catholics pray for an end to abortion during a June 15, 2019, procession and rally outside Planned Parenthood's facility in Charlotte, N.C. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a Feb. 24, 2020, ruling upheld the Trump administration's "Protect Life Rule" that stops Title X family planning funds from going to abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood. (CNS photo/Patricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald)

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Feb. 24 upheld the Trump administration's "Protect Life Rule" that enforces the Title X rule banning taxpayer funds from being used to promote or provide abortion as family planning.

"Abortion is not 'family planning' and a strong majority of Americans -- including 42% of Independents and more than one-third of Democrats -- oppose taxpayer funding of abortion," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national Susan B. Anthony List pro-life organization.

Advertisement

She called the 9th Circuit's 7-4 ruling "a vindication of President (Donald) Trump's pro-life policies and a victory for the American people." The "Protect Life Rule" can now go into full effect.

The court had already allowed the administration's changes to start taking effect while the government appealed lower court rulings against the policy.

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

The Trump administration finalized the "Protect Life Rule" in February 2019. By its action, the administration reaffirmed that abortion "is not family planning," Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said in a statement at the time. "Abortion ends the lives of families' most vulnerable members, as well as damaging the spiritual, mental and physical health of mothers."

According to the Office of Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is based on the most accurate interpretation of the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, which enacted Title X.

Section 1008 of this act states that "none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning."

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

HHS said the rule also requires "clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning. This separation will ensure adherence to statutory restrictions, and provide needed clarity for the public and for Title X clinics about permissible and impermissible activities for Title X projects."

On March 5, 2019, 20 states and the District of Columbia filed a joint suit against the new rule in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon. Its opponents call it a "gag rule" because it does not allow referrals for abortion as family planning.

In her majority opinion, Judge Sandra Ikuta of the 9th Circuit said Title X regulations are similar to those upheld by the Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan in 1991 prohibiting employees in federally funded family-planning facilities from counseling a patient on abortion.

Ikuta noted that "a counselor providing nondirective pregnancy counseling 'may discuss abortion' so long as 'the counselor neither refers for, nor encourages, abortion.'" So, she added, there "is no 'gag' on abortion counseling."

Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life of America president, called the 9th Circuit ruling "a victory for sound public policy and fiscal responsibility," nothing that "taxpayers have been loud and clear that they don't want their scarce resources to underwrite the abortion industry making this."

Pregnancy "is not a disease cured by abortion," she added, "and women have many health care options for full-service care making Planned Parenthood's involvement in family planning programs irrelevant and unnecessary."

Last August, Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced it was withdrawing from the federal Title X program over the Trump administration's "Protect Life Rule," which like other opponents of the policy called it a "gag rule." It will no longer receive $60 million of the $286 million allocated annually through Title X.

 

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Tucker Redding, S.J. guides listeners through contemplative prayer in this 10-part mini-series "Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer."
Tucker Redding, S.J.April 09, 2020
Pope Francis delivers the homily as he celebrates the Mass of Lord's Supper April 9, 2020, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media via Reuters)
“Today, I wish to be close to priests, to all priests, from the most recently ordained to the pope,” Pope Francis said. “Today, dear brother priests, you are all with me at the altar.”
Gerard O’ConnellApril 09, 2020
Join us throughout the Lenten season as we offer a special presentation of the Gospel, Passion and Resurrection narratives. 
Isabelle SenechalApril 09, 2020
Chinese Catholics have donated significant medical supplies to the Vatican to assist in the fight against Covid-19.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 09, 2020