Monday gave pro-life groups around the nation cause to rejoice, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration’s proposal to no longer federally fund institutions that perform or recommend abortions to be constitutional.
This comes after President Donald Trump declared last year that all facilities that either perform abortions and/or refer women to abortion clinics would be stripped of their Title X funding. Naturally, pro-abortion groups rose up, claiming that abortion referrals and the act itself were an essential part of family planning practices and that taking away the federal funding needed to continue would be unconstitutional. And so the issue was brought before the courts.
Lower courts in three separate states agreed with this decision, according to Fox News. However, upon further inspection by the Court of Appeals, these preliminary injunctions were overturned. The reason goes back to the very beginning of the Title X rule.
Title X funding was launched in 1970 as a way to federally fund individual medical institutions. However, it was decided that abortions were not “a method of family planning,” and so should not be supported by taxpayers. In fact, by all definitions, it is precisely the opposite; the plan not to have a family.
In 1988, during President Ronald Reagan’s administration, this ruling was further restricted to include not only abortions but also “merely providing counseling or referrals for abortion for family-planning purposes.” This ruling was brought before the Supreme Court in 1991, where the court upheld the decision.
But since then, under the administrations of several more lax and pro-abortion presidents, the regulations that kept this rule in check were not always reserved. Heads turned aside and the statutes of the law were interpreted differently to allow for the federal Title X funding of many abortion clinics and counseling facilities.
That is until Trump, who is bringing back a little order.
Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, who wrote the court’s majority opinion, said, “In light of Supreme Court approval of the 1988 regulations and our broad deference to agencies’ interpretations of the statutes they are charged with implementing, plaintiffs’ legal challenges to the 2019 rule fail. Accordingly, we vacate the injunctions entered by the district courts and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Naturally, pro-abortion groups are much distressed by the news saying they are “deeply disappointed” and that this is a “gag” on abortion counseling. However, as Judge Ikuta says in the court’s explanation of their decision, “there is no ‘gag’ on (nondirective) abortion counseling.” In fact, she goes on to explain that the judgment could have been much harsher.
According to the 1988 decision, the rules were far more restrictive. Then, counselors could not even mention abortion if they were to receive federal funds. Now, under Trump’s policy, “a counselor providing nondirective pregnancy counseling ‘may discuss abortion’ so long as ‘the counselor neither refers for nor encourages, abortion.”
But this leniency is unlikely to make a difference to organizations like Planned Parenthood, who has already withdrawn from its Title X funding program, rather than changing their methods on abortion. By doing so, they just lost about $60 million a year in federal funding.
But not everyone is nearly so distressed about the ruling.
President of Susan B. Anthony List Marjorie Dannenfelser said on Monday, “Today’s ruling is a vindication of President Trump’s pro-life policies and a victory for the American people. Abortion is not ‘family planning’ and a strong majority of Americans – including 42 percent of Independents and more than one-third of Democrats – oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. President Trump’s Protect Life Rule honors their will and the plain language of the Title X statute by stopping the funneling of Title X taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry, without reducing family planning funding by a dime.”
The decision also overjoys Americans United for Life. President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster says they are “grateful that the court of appeals has seen through the false cries of the abortion industry and upheld a rule that protects women’s health as well as taxpayer’s consciences.”
Up next on the docket is Senator Lindsay Graham’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which, if passed, would ban all abortions past 20 weeks.