New Trump administration rules imposing additional hurdles for women seeking abortions can take effect while the government appeals decisions that blocked them, a federal appeals court said Thursday.
The rules ban taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals and prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers — a rule critics said would force many to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down.
More than 20 states and several civil rights and health organizations challenged the rules in cases filed in Oregon, Washington and California. Judges in all three states blocked the rules from taking effect, with Oregon and Washington courts issuing nationwide injunctions. One called the new policy "madness" and said it was motivated by "an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women's health care than their providers."
But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco called the rules "reasonable" and said they accord with a federal law that prohibits taxpayer funds from going to "programs where abortion is a method of family planning."
"If the program refers patients to abortion providers for family planning services, then that program is logically one 'where abortion is a method of family planning,'" the panel wrote.