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Judge orders Trump officials to process grants for teen pregnancy programs

Judge orders Trump officials to process grants for teen pregnancy programs
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A federal judge ruled this weekend that the Trump administration must accept and process grant applications for more than 60 organizations working to prevent teen pregnancy. 

It's a significant development in a fight that has dragged on since last summer, when the administration prematurely ended grants for groups participating in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, created under former President Obama. 

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Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in a class action lawsuit against the administration that the termination was unlawful and ordered the department to proceed "as if the agency had not undertaken to shorten these grantees' federal awards."

The administration told grantees last summer their funding would end two years earlier than originally planned, claiming the program was inefficient at curbing teen pregnancy rates. 

This weekend's ruling means that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will have to process applications from grantees for the final two years of the program. 

The decision from Brown, an Obama appointee, is the fifth in rulings against HHS over the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. 

Supporters of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program are cautiously celebrating the result of the lawsuit, but are concerned about what the administration's next steps might be. 

“While we are thrilled to see the continued trend of courts holding the Trump administration accountable—especially in regard to this vital program—we know that this fight could be far from over,” said Chitra Panjabi, president and CEO of the Sexuality and Information Council of the U.S.

“SIECUS will continue to keep a close watch as any potential response from the Administration remains unknown.”

HHS said in a statement that it was evaluating its next steps, but did not provide any further details. 

“We are disappointed with this ruling," HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley said in a statement. 

"Continuing the program in its current state does a disservice to the youth it serves and to the taxpayers who fund it. Communities deserve better, and we are considering our next steps.”

This story was updated at 3:07 p.m.