SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A revised rule by the Trump administration that bans federally funded family planning clinics from providing abortion referrals has been upheld by a San Francisco Appeals court.

An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday voted 7-4 to overturn preliminary injunctions issued by federal judges in San Francisco, Oregon and Washington against the revised rule, which prohibits doctors at federally funded clinics from either encouraging abortion or providing an abortion referral to patients.

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Instead, the revised rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requires doctors to refer pregnant patients to prenatal services. The previous version of the rule allowed doctors to provide abortion referrals and to give neutral, “non-directive” counseling.

The preliminarty injunctions against the revised rule came as a result of lawsuits filed by 22 states and a number of health organizations.

Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote in the majority opinion that the revised rule was “a reasonable interpretation” of the federal law that authorizes family planning grants, known as Title X.

“Today’s court ruling on the Trump Administration’s Gag Rule is troubling. The Gag Rule interferes with healthcare decisions that should remain between women and their healthcare providers,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a prepared statement. “This reckless rule is just another attempt by the Trump-Pence Administration to roll back women’s access to reproductive healthcare. The rule targets the Title X program — which serves low income women, LQBTQ individuals, young people, and families — and obstructs access to care by gagging medical professionals from discussing all available options with their patients.”

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Another of the lawsuits before the appeals court was filed in federal court in San Francisco by Essential Access Health, California’s largest Title X grantee, which distributes funds to clinics.

Essential Access Health President Julie Rabinovitz stated, “This is a devastating decision for the millions of low-income patients who rely on the Title X program for comprehensive, quality sexual and reproductive health care nationwide.”

Rabinovitz said the organization is reviewing the decision and discussing next steps with its lawyers and litigation partners.

 

 

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