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Family planning and women’s health clinics across the country that accept a federal grant to serve low-income people are forbidden from discussing abortion with their patients, according to a federal court decision Thursday that upheld a controversial rule proposed by the Trump administration.
Planned Parenthood, which led the fight against what it is calling a gag rule, intends to challenge the decision.
The rule takes effect immediately, but none of the 77,000 low-income New Jerseyans who use Planned Parenthood’s clinics will see any change, said Casey Olesko, spokeswoman for the Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey.
Planned Parenthood will not take the Title X funding while the rule is in effect, Olesko said.
“For patients here in New Jersey, nothing will be changing,” she said. “We are using some limited some emergency funds so we are not using any of the tainted money. That would be medically unethical and we would never fall in line with the gag rule.”
Clinics already are prohibited from using Title X grants to pay for abortions. But the proposed rule would go further, promising to yank funding for clinics which “promote, refer for or support abortion as a method of family planning, nor take any affirmative action to assist a patient to secure such an abortion.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday sided with the Trump administration and set aside two nationwide injunctions that had blocked the new rule from taking effect in May.
“We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit has recognized that there is no need to hold up the new family planning rules that enforce laws on the books and revert substantially to rules that the Supreme Court upheld decades ago,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement Thursday night. “We are also pleased that the Ninth Circuit agreed that the three preliminary injunctions against the new rules, including two nationwide injunctions, were inappropriate.”
“This decision is a major step toward the Trump Administration being able to ensure that all Title X projects comply with the Title X statute and do not support abortion as a method of family planning,” Azar’s statement said.
Marie Tasy, executive director for New Jersey Right to Life, praised the ruling because it exposes Planned Parenthood’s “abortion funding scheme.”
“The new Title X Rule upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will require that family planning providers like Planned Parenthood who receive millions of taxpayer dollars must now physically separate their family planning services from their abortion business,” Tasy said. “Everyone knows that all funds are fungible and when there is not physical separation of these type of services, taxpayer money is being used to fund their abortion business.”
New Jersey was among 20 states and Washington D.C. that joined a court action against the rule’s adoption, led by Oregon, Planned Parenthood affiliates and the American Medical Association.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement, vowed to continue the challenge.
“Planned Parenthood will not stand for this attack on millions of people across the country. We will be immediately seeking emergency relief from the Court of Appeals,” according to the statement. “Planned Parenthood will not let the government censor our doctors and nurses from informing patients where and how they can access health care.”
Created in 1970, Title X says: “No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” The program costs the federal government $260 million, and is used to help 4 million low-income people pay for contraception, gynecology exams, cancer and sexually-transmitted disease screenings.
New Jersey receives $8.8 million in Title X funds, according to the state Health Department.
Last year, 100,000 people were seen at family planning clinics, including 77,000 at Planned Parenthood’s 22 clinics in the state, Olesko said.