“Leaving women in the dark about their healthcare and restricting doctors from providing candid advice is simply not in the best interest of public health.” – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
By Miriam Raftery
February 25, 2020 (San Francisco) – By a 7-4 vote, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled that federal Title X funds for family planning can be blocked to any clinics that provide abortion referrals, even if they don’t perform abortions.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called the ruling troubling” adding, “The gag rule interferes with healthcare decisions that should remain between women and their healthcare providers. This reckless rule is just another attempt by the Trump-Pence administration to roll back women’s access to reproductive healthcare.”
The Title X program serves low-income women, young people, families, and others. “Leaving women in the dark about their healthcare and restricting doctors from providing candid advice is simply not in the best interest of public health,” Becerra says.
The gag rule prevents doctors and other healthcare providers which receive Title X funds from even advising women in high-risk pregnancies about pregnancy termination services that could save a mother’s life. Even a woman carrying a non-viable fetus, such as one with no brain stem, cannot be told about options to end the pregnancy. Nor can a rape victim or a woman with a unintended pregnancy for any reason be provided a morning after pill, abortion, or even information on where else to obtain such services.
The formerly liberal Ninth Circuit appellate court has become markedly more conservative with President Donald Trump’s recent appointment of judges.
Today’s ruling fulfills a campaign pledge made by Trump to cut off federal funding related to abortion, a nod to the religious beliefs of his Evangelical base.
Planned Parenthood has opted out of Title X funding, which had provided around $60 million a year to the national chain of family planning cinics, rather than be forced to withhold medical information or services from patients. The clinic now relies on funding from other sources. But for smaller clinics without deep-pocket donors, some may have little choice but to stop providing counseling or abortion services to all of their patients.
A copy of the decision can be viewed here.