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US judge in Oregon blocks Trump abortion referral rule

A federal judge in Oregon has blocked a Trump administration attempt to prevent federally funded health care providers from referring pregnant women to abortion clinics.

Posted: Apr 29, 2019 3:25 PM
Updated: Apr 29, 2019 5:15 PM

By ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge in Oregon on Monday blocked a Trump administration attempt to prevent federally funded health care providers from referring pregnant women to abortion clinics, describing the new policy as "madness."

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Eugene, Oregon, was the second nationwide injunction by a federal judge in the Pacific Northwest against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services attempt to implement new rules beginning Friday in the so-called Title X program. It provides comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services for low-income families or uninsured people.

"We are very, very pleased with the outcome," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, whose state led the lawsuit, told a news conference. "It will ensure that women across the country will continue to receive the health care they need and deserve."

Nineteen other states, the District of Columbia, the American Medical Association and the Planned Parenthood Federation were also plaintiffs in the suit against Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

McShane said at a hearing last week that he was reluctant to set national health care policy. But in the temporary injunction he issued Monday, McShane granted plaintiffs' request for it to be nationwide.

McShane called the Department of Health and Human Services rules change "a ham-fisted approach to health policy that recklessly disregards the health outcomes of women, families, and communities."

Oregon Right to Life, which supports the federal agency's rules changes, criticized the judge.

"This appears to be the height of activist judging," said the group's spokeswoman, Liberty Pike. She said the original intent of Title X was to aid in family planning.

"Abortion is not family planning," Pike said in a phone interview.

A judge in Washington state made a similar ruling last week.


CLICK HERE for more background on the Title X lawsuit and Judge McShane's decision.


Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, appearing at the news conference with Brown, noted that the cases are subject to appeal by the Trump administration and that the records of the cases are different, with all 20 states and the District of Columbia presenting declarations in the case heard in Oregon. Washington state was the only state plaintiff in its suit, heard by Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima.

Bastian wrote that the plaintiffs in Washington state demonstrated the Trump administration's so-called Final Rule "likely violates the central purpose of Title X, which is to equalize access to comprehensive, evidence-based, and voluntary family planning."

The new rules would have banned abortion referrals by taxpayer-funded clinics. Such a clinic could give a list of health-care providers to a pregnant woman, but not say which ones provide abortion procedures, even if the woman was seeking such a procedure.

"This is madness," McShane wrote.

McShane compared the new rules to a novel by Franz Kafka, whose protagonists face bizarre or surrealistic predicaments.

"If a woman seeks to have a legal abortion and requests a referral from her Title X provider, the Final Rule requires a referral for prenatal care," the judge wrote.

The new rules would also have prohibited clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers.

Supporters of the changes say they return Title X's regulations back to their original legislative intent that "none of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31865

Reported Deaths: 539
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7022136
Marion456992
Washington441759
Umatilla293941
Clackamas234661
Malheur158926
Jackson11094
Lane109616
Deschutes79312
Yamhill75013
Jefferson5218
Polk51515
Linn49513
Morrow4946
Lincoln47613
Union4392
Benton2946
Klamath2792
Wasco2793
Hood River2490
Douglas2244
Josephine1952
Columbia1551
Coos1490
Clatsop1310
Baker922
Crook621
Tillamook510
Curry310
Lake290
Wallowa281
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant90
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 799516

Reported Deaths: 15393
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2644146455
Riverside578831179
San Bernardino53359918
Orange526221182
San Diego45596773
Kern31712360
Fresno28019362
Sacramento21872399
Alameda20951397
Santa Clara20756304
San Joaquin20126437
Stanislaus16436345
Contra Costa16238204
Tulare15829259
Ventura12591146
Imperial11741317
San Francisco1094699
San Mateo9714144
Monterey970170
Santa Barbara8973113
Merced8828140
Kings756977
Sonoma7262120
Marin6641114
Solano627863
Madera445865
Placer353544
San Luis Obispo347929
Butte279043
Yolo278255
Santa Cruz22949
Sutter168911
Napa165313
San Benito132111
Yuba11367
El Dorado10884
Mendocino89418
Shasta75916
Lassen7360
Glenn5713
Tehama5334
Lake53011
Nevada5286
Colusa5246
Humboldt4967
Calaveras31414
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18715
Mono1652
Siskiyou1630
Del Norte1381
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc250
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
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