San Francisco Chronicle
Justices agree to review Trumpera abortion rules
“We need swift and meaningful executive action to restore Title X’s mandate to provide comprehensive family planning services.” Julie Rabinovitz, chief executive of Essential Access Health
The Supreme Court granted requests by abortionrights advocates Monday to review Trump administration rules that have barred recipients of U.S. familyplanning funds from referring any of their 4 million lowincome patients for abortions.
The rules, in effect since June 2019, also require federally funded familyplanning providers to place their abortion clinics in separate facilities, a mandate that has already driven Planned Parenthood out of the program. The Biden administration, however, could repeal its predecessor’s rules before the court decides their legality.
The federal program, known as Title X, provided $286 million last year for birth control and reproductive care to lowincome patients, mostly women, including screenings for breast and cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.
Under the Trump administration’s regulations, doctors can discuss all options with pregnant patients at their clinics but must refer them only to prenatal care, not to abortion providers. They can give patients a list of providers in the area, including up to half who offer abortions, but cannot identify the abortion providers.
Previously, an average of nearly 1 million Californians per year received Title X services at 365 facilities in 38 counties, said Julie Rabinovitz, chief executive of Essential Access Health, which distributes the funds in California. Last year, she said, fewer than 200,000 patients were provided care at 238 sites in 20 counties.
The restrictions, challenged by California and other states, were upheld last February by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The majority in the 74 ruling said the regulations were a reasonable interpretation of laws that prohibit most federal funding for abortion and do not interfere with women’s access to health care.
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., later halted enforcement of the regulations in Maryland. The Supreme Court agreed to review the conflicting decisions Monday, with a ruling due by the end of June.
President Biden, meanwhile, issued a memorandum Jan. 28 saying the Title X cutback “puts women’s health at risk” and ordering his Health and Human Services secretary to review the rules and decide whether to revise or repeal them. Biden’s nominee, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.
Rabinovitz said patients can’t afford to wait for a court ruling.
“We need swift and meaningful executive action to restore Title X’s mandate to provide comprehensive family planning services,” she said.
On the other side, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List, said she was confident the court would find that the Trump administration and likeminded future administrations “have the right to disentangle Title X taxpayer funding from the abortion industry.”