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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.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 5061240

Reported Deaths: 74159
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152548627128
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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