U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS will review rule banning abortion referrals by clinics receiving federal funds

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review a Trump administration rule that barred abortion referrals by programs that receive federal funds.

The Supreme Court agreed to review the rule, enacted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in three consolidated cases.

Law360, Politico, CNN and USA Today have coverage.

The rule applies to a Title X grant program for family planning services. The measure allows the federal government to withhold federal funds from clinics that provide abortions or referrals for the procedure. Clinics may provide lists of health care providers to women under the regulations, but they can’t identify which ones perform abortions.

According to SCOTUSblog, one issue is whether the rule is arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Another is whether the rule creates an unreasonable barrier to obtaining appropriate medical care in violation of the Affordable Care Act. A third issue is whether the rule violates a provision of the Title X appropriations act that requires pregnancy counseling to be “nondirective.”

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco had allowed the rule to take effect in a June 2019 opinion. The 4th Circuit at Richmond, Virginia, had blocked the rule in Maryland, however, according to a September 2020 Washington Post story.

Planned Parenthood and other clinics in 34 states withdrew from the grant program as a result of the rule, according to Politico.

President Joe Biden has asked the HHS to consider whether it should revoke the rule, according to Law360 and Politico.

The three cases are American Medical Association v. Cochran, Cochran v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, and Oregon v. Cochran. The SCOTUSblog case pages are here, here and here.

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