Second federal judge blocks Trump abortion measures

Second federal judge blocks Trump abortion measures
© Greg Nash

An Oregon federal judge on Monday issued a national injunction against the Trump administration’s measure cutting off federal funds for family planning clinics that offer abortions or referrals.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane called the proposed rule “madness.” 

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"At worst, it is a ham-fisted approach to health policy that recklessly disregards the health outcomes of women, families, and communities. In the guise of 'program integrity,' the Gag Rule prevents doctors from behaving like informed professionals,” McShane wrote. “It prevents counselors from providing comprehensive counseling. It prevents low-income women from making an informed and independent medical decision.”

Federal funds have long been banned from covering abortions, but family planning clinics that offer the procedure receive federal grants under the Title X Family Planning Program.

McShane's injunction is the second against Trump's proposed changes to the program, following a Washington state judge's order last week.

The rule, which is being challenged by 20 states and the District of Columbia, would have taken effect May 3.

McShane announced last week he would grant a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association, but said at the time that he had not yet decided whether the decision would apply nationally.

The two groups brought the case against the Trump administration in February in response to proposed changes to the Title X family planning grant program that banned participating providers from referring women for abortions. The changes would also lift a requirement that clinics counsel women on abortion as an option to terminate pregnancy, as well as other changes to Title X funding requirements. 

House Democrats are pushing back on the proposed changes in a draft spending bill seeking to "protect" the Title X Family Planning Program.

AMA President Barbara L. McAneney, M.D. praised McShane's Monday ruling as "a victory for patients, physicians and the open conversations that are essential to improving health outcomes."

“In siding with patients and doctors in this case, the judge decisively said the free exchange of medical information is an essential patient right," McAneney said in a statement. "The AMA will not stand by when the government interferes with the patient-doctor relationship by foisting a gag rule on physicians. Patients trusting their doctors is the foundation of good health, and there must be open communication about health care options.”

Judge Stanley Bastian of Washington state also granted a nationwide injunction against the rule last week.