April 24, 2019

For the moment, the courts continue to save us from Donald Trump as much as they can.

Today, a federal judge in Oregon ruled that Trump may not ban Title X family planning clinics from referring its patients to abortion providers. The administration had set new rules for Title X funds, due to take effect May 2019. Here's what not only Trump, but Pence, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and every single person who voted Republican is in favor of — either actively or by default:

From the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:

The Trump Administration’s new final regulations for the federal Title X family planning program make significant changes to the program and will:

  • Block the availability of federal funds to family planning providers that also offer abortion services;
  • Prohibit sites that participate in Title X from referring pregnant clients to abortion providers;
  • Eliminate current requirements for Title X sites to provide non-directive pregnancy options counseling that includes information about prenatal care/delivery, adoption, and abortion;
  • Prioritize providers that offer comprehensive primary health care services over those that specialize in reproductive health services; and
  • Encourage participation by “non-traditional” organizations such as those that only offer one method of family planning, such as fertility awareness-based methods.

Sites that do not offer abortion services may still qualify for Title X funds, but may not participate in the program because of concerns about clinical standards of care, medical liability, and burdensome administrative requirements.

If implemented, the changes to Title X will shrink the network of participating providers and could reduce the scope of services offered to low-income and uninsured people that rely on Title X-funded clinics for their family planning care. (italics by author)

You cool with that? Well, people who are, are also racist. According to Planned Parenthood, the Kaiser Foundation, and number of other reputable sources, two-thirds of those who receive family planning services from a Title X site are below the poverty line, and two-thirds are People of Color. Control of their reproductive lives is their basic human right, and cutting off access to such control, while leaving it in place for wealthier white people is peak privilege.

So, thankfully, this federal judge said NO. U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane had the following reasoning, according to The Oregonian:

McShane said the so-called "gag rule'' -- barring physicians from referring patients who don’t want to continue their pregnancies to an abortion provider -- prevents doctors from behaving like medical professionals.

The judge also found that it would create a class of low-income women who couldn’t receive a full range of medical care options, foster a "geographic vacuum'' in reproductive health care clinics and likely cause an increase in abortions due to more unwanted pregnancies.

He said the rule, which is set to go into effect May 3, represents an "arrogant assumption'' that government is better suited to direct health care instead of providers.

Planned Parenthood, the American Medical Association, and the other plaintiffs in the case against the Trump administration sought a national injunction against the new restrictions, but Judge McShane was reluctant to go so far as to set national policy. He will outline the scope in a written decision soon, he said. But for now, this is a victory, at least locally, and it sets a precedent for how other judges can rule and question the lawyers representing this regressive administration trying to put women back into the 17th century. Or, hell, into the 1960s.

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