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April 2, 2020 (Lif eSiteNews) — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the Trump administration cannot exclude the abortion industry from federal family planning funds, further complicating the legal state of a long awaited policy enacted over a year ago.

The Protect Life Rule requires “clear financial and physical separation between Title X–funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning” and bans “referral for abortion as a method of family planning.” The abortion lobby has responded with multiple lawsuits, and Planned Parenthood chose to withdraw from Title X rather than comply with the new conditions. Abortion proponents have dubbed the rule a “gag rule.”

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary injunction against enforcing the rule last June, and the full court affirmed that decision in February, predicting that that lawsuits brought in California, Oregon, and Washington “will not succeed” on the merits.

But National Review reports that the Fourth Circuit sided with the opinion of U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett, who claimed that “literally every major medical organization in the United States has opposed implementation of this rule. There is almost no professional support for its implementation.” 

The appropriateness of allowing (let alone subsidizing) abortion is not primarily a medical question, but a humanitarian one, and the opinions of mainstream medical associations do not speak to whether the Constitution contains anything that would forbid the federal government from placing the Protect Life Rule’s conditions on federal assistance.

The Protect Life Rule is projected to cut almost $60 million from the $616 million Planned Parenthood received during the most recent fiscal year. The incoming presidential and congressional elections this November will decide whether funding to the abortion industry is further restricted or restored next year.