Federal Judge Issues Nationwide Ban On Trump Administration Abortion ‘Gag’ Rule

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Grace Carr Reporter
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A federal judge on Thursday barred the Trump administration from enforcing its “gag” rule on Title X funds allocated to groups that provide abortions or referrals for abortions.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian granted a nationwide injunction Thursday that temporarily prohibits the enforcement of a ban on Title X funds for abortion groups. Title X is a federal grant program that provides individuals with comprehensive family planning and related health services.

The Trump administration issued a Feb. 22 rule prohibiting Title X funds from supporting programs and organizations that provide abortions or abortion referrals. The rule states that “none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” Title X grant recipients were already banned from conducting abortions with these federal funds prior to the ruling.

The rule also “requir[ed] the physical and financial separation of Title X projects and facilities from programs and facilities where abortion is a method of family planning,” according to the text.

Under Bastian’s Thursday ruling, the administration cannot enforce the ban because it “likely violates the central purpose of Title X, which is to equalize access to comprehensive, evidence-based and voluntary family planning,” The Washington Post reported.

The Trump administration’s rule “reverses long-standing positions of the Department without proper consideration of sound medical opinions and the economic and non-economic consequences,” Bastian wrote in his decision, and called the ban “arbitrary and capricious.”

The rule “creates unreasonable barriers for patients to obtain appropriate medical care,” Bastian also wrote in his decision, saying that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offered “no reasoned analysis” for changing the Title X funding rule.

“This is a major victory for millions of Americans whose healthcare is at stake under President Trump’s dangerous and legally indefensible gag rule,” Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a Thursday statement applauding the judge’s ruling.

Bastian’s ruling “ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, according to the Post. (RELATED: Kansas Supreme Court Rules Bill Of Rights Protects Access To Abortion Women)

The decision comes after twenty states sued the Trump administration in early March, alleging that the administration’s rule violates the Affordable Care Act.

Volunteers with Planned Parenthood of Arizona set up at a bilingual healthcare town hall sponsored by local organizations that work in Latino voter outreach, disability advocacy and community health at the Ability360 Center in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. July 5, 2017. Picture taken July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Caitlin O’Hara

Bastian’s ruling comes after U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane granted a preliminary injunction late Tuesday barring enforcement of the Trump administration rule, The Oregonian reported. McShane called the rule a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy,” according to the Oregonian.

Title X recipients receive roughly $286 million annually, according to the Post.

Planned Parenthood receives between $50 million and $60 million every year in Title X funds. The abortion organization provides services to just over 40 percent of Title X patients.

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