Federally funded family planning clinics can no longer provide referrals for abortions, according to the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule,” which went into effect Monday. Clinics that continue to do so will lose their funding.

The rule, which could affect many clinics that serve low-income Americans, is considered a particular attack on Planned Parenthood, which stands to lose approximately $60 million in federal funding.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and 21 states have filed lawsuits against the policy. According to the AMA, it “could affect low-income women’s access to basic medical care, including birth control, cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases,” CBS News reports.

The rule applies to clinics that receive funding through Title X, a federal program that benefits 4 million women and provides approximately $260 million in grant funding. Many of those clinics are operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates.

The rule, which will be enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), holds that clinics that receive Title X funding cannot share space with facilities that provide abortions.

The move “will undoubtedly force the clinics to transfer to new locations or undergo costly remodeling,” Marie Lodi writes in New York Magazine’s The Cut.

Title X, passed by Richard Nixon, has never funded abortions; the decision to withhold funding from clinics that simply refer patients for them is new.

“The administration’s actions show its intent is to further an ideological agenda,” Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, told CBS.

In June, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration could to go forward with the policy, pending the decisions of judges in California, Oregon and Washington. HHS contends it has the right to enforce the rule even as additional litigation proceeds.

“Title X is a limited grant program focused on providing pre-pregnancy family planning services—it does not fund medical care for pregnant women,” the Ninth Circuit ruled. “The [final rule] can reasonably be viewed as a choice to subsidize certain medical services and not others.”

Opponents of abortion cheered the Ninth Circuit’s decision. “Ending the connection between abortion and family planning is a victory for common-sense health care,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, said in a statement.

Kelly Laco, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, told the Los Angeles Times that the DOJ’s position “is supported by longstanding Supreme Court precedent and we are confident we will ultimately prevail on appeal.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the decision “devastating for the millions of people who rely on Title X health centers for cancer screenings, HIV tests, affordable birth control and other critical primary and preventive care.”

Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it plans to defy Trump’s rule. Jacqueline Ayers, the organization’s head lobbyist, told The Associated Press, “We are not going to comply with a regulation that would require health care providers to not give full information to their patients.”

HHS has not yet responded to Planned Parenthood’s decision.


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