Sat | Apr 4, 2020

US appeals court upholds Trump rules involving abortions

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 5:01 PM
In this February 21, 2020 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

SEATTLE (AP) — A United States appeals court on Monday upheld Trump administration rules that bar health care providers in the federal family planning program for low-income women from referring patients for abortions.

The 7-4 ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned decisions issued by judges in Washington, Oregon and California.

The court had already allowed the administration’s changes to begin taking effect while the government appealed those rulings.

The changes ban taxpayer-funded clinics in the Title X program from making abortion referrals, a restriction opponents characterise as a “gag rule.”

They also prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers, which critics said would force many Title X providers to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down — reducing access to the program.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure, but federal laws prohibit the use of Title X or other taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.

Under Title X, a 1970 law designed to improve access to family planning services, federal money may not be used in programs “where abortion is a method of family planning.”

Abortion rights supporters and opponents have argued over the decades whether counselling a patient about abortion or referring a patient to a different provider for an abortion violates that language.

Abortion opponents and religious conservatives say Title X has long been used to indirectly subsidise abortion providers.

More than 20 states and several civil rights and health organisations challenged the rules in cases filed in Oregon, Washington and California. 

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