Tuesday, February 25, 2020

9th Circuit Upholds HHS Family Planning Grant Rules

In a 7-4 en banc decision yesterday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Trump Administration's rules that apply to recipients of family planning grants under Title X. In State of California v. Azar, (9th Cir., Feb. 24, 2020),  the majority in an 82-page opinion vacated injunctions that had been entered by three district courts.  The court described the major provisions of the challenged rules:
While referrals for abortion as a method of family planning are not allowed, the Title X project may give a pregnant client a “list of licensed, qualified, comprehensive primary health care providers,” which may include “providers of prenatal care[], some, but not the majority, of which also provide abortion as part of their comprehensive health care services.” .... The Title X project may also provide referrals for abortion when such a procedure is medically necessary....
... [T]he Final Rule ... requires that a Title X project be organized “so that it is physically and financially separate . . . from activities that are prohibited under section 1008 of the Public Health Service Act..... [in order to avoid] the appearance and perception that Title X funds being used in a given program may also be supporting that program’s abortion activities.... 
The dissenters argued that the HHS rules violate Congressional mandates, saying in part:
The majority would return us to an older world, one in which a government bureaucrat could restrict a medical professional from informing a patient of the full range of health care options available to her. Fortunately, Congress has ensured such federal intrusion is no longer the law of the land.
ABC News reports on the decision.