Abortion Providers Lose Title X Funding, For Now, After ‘Protect Life Rule’ Upheld in US Court

Nick Hankoff Comments

A 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday that the Trump administration can ban health clinics from recommending or offering abortion services if they receive federal funding under the Title X Family Planning Program.

The latest legal development in the abortion segment of America’s culture war is good news for the pro-life side, but it may not be game over for pro-choice activists.

The “Protect Life Rule” is a change to Title X brought by the US Department of Health and Human Services in February. It would largely impact Planned Parenthood, which operates about 40 percent of Title X-funded clinics and which takes in about $60 million a year in Title X funds. The rule not only bars Title X-funded clinics from referring patients to abortion providers but also requires clinics to be separated physically and financially from abortion providers by March 2020.

Multiple states are challenging the federal government over it in court, and lower courts had ordered the Trump administration to hold off on enforcing the rule until the cases were decided. But on Thursday, an all-Republican-nominated 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the rule change to take effect while any cases remain in litigation.

Title X is the nearly 50-year-old federal grant program that pays for family planning and related preventative health services for low-income people. It was instituted by President Richard Nixon in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide.

Now that the ideological makeup of the US Supreme Court has shifted rightward, states are running hard to the left or right on the issue of abortion. Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri are among those getting stricter, as Illinois, Maine, and New York hit more progressive strides than seen in the pre-Roe era.

An overturning of Roe would simply return the issue to the states.

Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen called Thursday’s news “devastating” and said the rule change was dangerous, unethical, and illegal.

Unsurprisingly, every Democratic candidate running for the 2020 presidential nomination is pro-choice, but the pressure is on to be both very pro-choice as very nationalist in policy. Ex-Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris all want to codify Roe v. Wade into law or force states and taxpayers to subsidize “free” abortions.

Libertarians may struggle with the issue of abortion, but not with the question of whether the government ought to fund it. For that reason, Thursday is a victory for liberty that should unite all libertarians.

Photo credit: Flickr

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