Federal court blocks Trump’s abortion ‘gag’ rule – POLITICO

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How we got here: The Trump administration last year implemented restrictions on Title X funding, prompting Planned Parenthood, independent clinics and some Democratic-leaning states to withdraw from the program. They argued the ban on referring patients for abortions amounted to a “gag” on physicians that compromised patients’ health.

The rules prompted lawsuits from physician groups and Democratic state attorneys general. The Trump policy was briefly blocked before the 9th Circuit last summer said it could take effect nationwide.

The 4th Circuit decision involved a lawsuit brought by the City of Baltimore. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit previously ruled against the city and said the restrictions could take effect statewide, but the full appellate court on Thursday overturned them.

Why it matters: For more than 50 years, Title X has provided millions of low-income people with family planning services, including contraception and health screenings. Abortion providers who participated in the program had already been barred from using federal dollars to fund abortions.

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which represents clinics who comply with the new rules and those that quit the program, estimates that nearly 1,000 health centers across 30 states have the left program since the restrictions took effect. Those centers served 1.5 million patients, the group estimated.

What’s next: The Supreme Court could soon be asked to settle the conflicting circuit court rulings. Nearly 30 years ago, the court upheld similar Reagan-era Title X rules that had only taken effect briefly before they were reversed by the Clinton administration. It’s widely expected the current roster of conservative justices would uphold the Trump rules.

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