Trump admin. delays ban on federally-funded family planning centers giving abortion referrals

The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 28, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri.
The exterior of a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen on May 28, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. | Getty Images/Michael B. Thomas

The Trump administration decided to delay the implementation of a rule barring family planning centers that receive federal funding from providing abortion referrals, according to reports.

On Saturday evening, the Health and Human Services Department sent a notice to Planned Parenthood affiliates and others explaining that the new rule’s enforcement would be delayed until Sept. 18, according to The Washington Post and The Associated Press.

The notice stated that the recipients must soon provide assurance that they do “not include abortion as a method of family planning” and submit an “action plan” which will describe the ways they plan to comply with the various aspects of the new federal rules, reported Amy Goldstein of the Post.

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“The two-page notice issued Saturday night did not include detailed information about how the federally funded organization should interpret parts of the rules, such as a section that bans referrals for abortion but says that family planning centers may provide ‘nondirective counseling’ that mentions abortion among options.”

In February, HHS announced that it had finalized a rule banning Title X funding of abortion as a means of family planning.

“This final rule ensures that grants and contracts awarded under this program fully comply with the statutory program integrity requirements, thereby fulfilling the purpose of Title X, so that more women and men can receive services that help them consider and achieve both their short-term and long-term family planning needs,” stated HHS.

In response, multiple lawsuits were filed by California, another by 21 states and the District of Columbia, and another by Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association.

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed an earlier three-judge panel ruling that lifted injunctions preventing the new rule from taking effect.

Planned Parenthood denounced the decision, labeling the Title X rule a “gag rule” that will “censor our doctors and nurses from doing their jobs.”

National Right to Life celebrated the decision, with President Carol Tobias stating that abortion was “not family planning” and that there is “a bright line between family planning and abortion.”

Last week, when administration officials announced the rule, they had stated that the abortion referral ban would take effect immediately.

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