Planned Parenthood is now being put to the test … will they do as they have said they would and reject Title X funding if the court did not take their side and block a Trump administration rule known by some as the “domestic gag rule”? Or will they take their fight to the Supreme Court?
On Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear its previous order to allow the rule to proceed.
“The full court has been advised of the motions for full court en banc reconsideration and no judge has requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter as a full en banc court,” Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote. “The motions for full court en banc reconsideration are denied.”
Planned Parenthood leaders have been threatening to withdraw from the federal funding program by end of day Monday, August 19, meaning a loss of $60 million annually for the group. By withdrawing, they will be able to continue to refer women for abortions. However, those missing funds for their pro-abortion and baby-parts business would have to come from private funding sources and it is uncertain how that might work out.
The Monday deadline is actually drawn up by the Department of Health and Human Services for participants in the Title X family planning program to submit plans on how they will comply with the rules, which are set to go into effect on September 18.
“It is unrealistic to think grants or private donations can replace a decades-old federal program,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement on Wednesday. “Unless the Ninth Circuit intervenes, this gag rule will destroy the Title X program — putting birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment at risk for millions of people struggling to make ends meet.”
Unless the Ninth Circuit intervenes, the gag rule will destroy the Title X program — putting birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment at risk for millions of people struggling to make ends meet. #ProtectX https://t.co/flzI8sesl0
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) August 15, 2019
It is possible the legal battle will move on to the U.S. Supreme Court, though some legal analysts speculate that Planned Parenthood may not want to risk a resounding pro-life decision from the conservative-dominated high court.
Planned Parenthood has insisted it will not stop referring or providing abortions. But if it exits the program and the rule remains in place, the organization said many patients would be left without access to family planning services.
“The impact will vary state by state, but at the end of the day what it will mean is that too many people will delay or go without care,” Johnson said in her statement.
On Friday, Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance providing information about the new rule, saying that while family planning providers “are prohibited from referring for abortion as a method of family planning, referral for abortion because of an emergency medical situation is not prohibited.”
HHS also stated that providers “may not provide pregnancy options counseling which promotes abortion or encourages persons to obtain abortion, although the project may provide patients with complete factual information about all medical options and the accompanying risks and benefits.”
Clinics will be permitted to provide pregnant women with “a list of comprehensive healthcare providers (including prenatal care providers), including some (but not the majority) who perform abortion as part of a comprehensive healthcare practice. However, this list cannot serve as a referral for, nor identify those who provide abortion — and Title X providers cannot indicate those on the list who provide abortion.”
In that online guidance document, HHS singled out Planned Parenthood for criticism: “To the extent that Planned Parenthood claims that it must make burdensome changes to comply with the Final Rule, it is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services to clients in need of these services.”
The White House is clearly making good on promises to anti-abortion voters, as pro-lifers have long argued that abortion providers should not receive federal money.
“Women across America are going to find out for themselves that they don’t need Planned Parenthood after the nation’s largest abortion vendor pulls out of a program that they never should have been in at all,” said Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins in a statement.
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