New federal rules banning taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals and prohibiting federally subsidized clinics from sharing office space with abortion providers can take effect while the government appeals decisions that blocked them, a federal appeals court said last week.
More than 20 states and several civil rights and health organizations challenged the rules in cases filed in California, Oregon and Washington. Judges in all three states blocked the rules from taking effect, with Oregon and Washington courts issuing nationwide injunctions. One called the new policy “madness” and said it was motivated by “an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s healthcare than their providers.”
But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco called the rules “reasonable” and in accord with a federal law that prohibits taxpayer funds from going to “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
“If the program refers patients to abortion providers for family planning services, then that program is logically one ‘where abortion is a method of family planning,’ ” the panel wrote.
It granted the Justice Department a stay of the lower-court injunctions. A federal court in Maryland has also issued an order blocking the rules, but that only applied in that state. The Justice Department has appealed it.