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Ninth Circuit Declines to Reconsider Ruling on Abortion Gag Rule

May 8, 2020, 9:44 PM

The Ninth Circuit refused to reconsider a February ruling that allowed the Trump administration to restrict taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from performing, promoting, or referring someone for an abortion.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday denied a request to review the 11-judge decision that tossed out lower court orders blocking the administration’s so-called gag rule.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ rule, which kicked in March 4, requires family planning providers that receive federal funding under Title X of the Public Health Service Act to physically and financially separate their abortion services from other reproductive care.

States, cities, and family planning providers have been fighting to get it wiped off the books, arguing it has forced providers that serve millions of low-income people out of the Title X program.

The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association called the court’s denial disappointing. The group, alongside the states and providers that challenged the rule, had asked for a new 11-judge panel or the full 29-member court to reconsider.

“The unprecedented ruling in February by the smaller en banc panel undercut fundamental principles of fairness and allowed HHS to act without appropriate scrutiny,” the group’s CEO, Clare Coleman, said in a statement.

“As a result, the nearly four million individuals who rely on Title X for high-quality family planning and sexual health care continue to wait for the reversal of fortune when quality and dignity will once again serve as the hallmarks of the 50-year old program,” Coleman said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has heard arguments in the HHS’s appeal of a lower court order that blocked the HHS from enforcing the rule in Maryland.

The case is California v. Azar, 9th Cir., No. 19-15974, order 5/8/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Wheeler in Washington at lwheeler@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com

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