A Federal Judge Just Blocked Trump’s Latest Attack on Abortion Rights

Goodbye “gag rule.”

President Donald Trump makes remarks during a meeting of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council on April 4, 2019.

President Donald Trump makes remarks during a meeting of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council on April 4, 2019Chip Somodevilla/Getty

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A federal judge in Washington has blocked President Trump’s attempt to bar health organizations that provide abortions—or even offer referrals for them—from receiving Title X federal family planning money. Judge Stanley Bastian issued a nationwide injunction on the rule, effective immediately.

The so-called gag rule, which was set to go into effect on May 3, would have stripped tens of millions of Title X federal family planning dollars from Planned Parenthood and other organizations. While the use of public funds to pay for abortions is already banned except in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest, the new rule would have effectively “gagged” Title X health care providers by barring them from telling patients how to obtain abortions, and preventing organizations from performing abortions at the same facilities where they provide Title X services like mammograms, assistance for sexual assault survivors, and testing for sexually transmitted infections. 

In March, Washington state and a handful of reproductive rights and advocacy groups sued the Trump administration over the rule change. They argued that the gag rule interferes with patients’ rights to pregnancy counseling, creates obstacles to health care for low-income patients, and oversteps the Trump administration’s authority. In the past two weeks, federal judges in California and Oregon have also heard arguments against the new rule. During a preliminary hearing in Oregon on April 24, Judge Michael J. McShane suggested that he would block the rule, calling the restrictions a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy.” But he also indicated that he was reluctant to set “national health care’’ policy. In Washington, Judge Bastian had no such qualms.

Gov. Jay Inslee called the ruling “a major victory for millions of Americans.” Judge Bastian is expected to issue a written opinion early next week.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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