Nineteen states and several pro-life groups have filed motions asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene before the Biden administration voids the Trump administration’s Title X rule, which bars abortion promoters and providers from receiving federal funding for family planning.
On March 12, Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar submitted a brief to the high court requesting that cases filed against the Trump administration’s “Protect Life Rule” be dismissed.
Following split decisions in lower federal courts over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enforcement of the Protect Life Rule, the Supreme Court is set to schedule oral arguments during the October 2021-2022 term to hear the consolidated cases of American Medical Association v. Cochran, Oregon v. Cochran, and Cochran v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore.
In February 2020, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the HHS rule, while the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the measure invalid in September. If the Biden administration reverses the rule, the cases currently before the Supreme Court could be moot.
Prelogar’s request for dismissal have been joined by the American Medical Association and several states who filed suits against the 2019 rule that banned federal funding of health clinics that provide or promote abortion services for family planning.
Requests before the Supreme Court to end litigation of the Protect Life Rule follow a January memorandum issued by Biden instructing HHS to reconsider federal funding restrictions for abortion providers and other organizations that promote abortion. Biden’s memo also revoked the “Mexico City Policy” which prohibited the allocation of federal funds for abortion services internationally.
According to the memo, Biden asserts that the Title X rule places “undue restrictions” on federal funding and puts “women’s health at risk by making it harder for women to receive complete medical information.”
On March 8, a coalition of 19 states led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed the attorneys general’s motion with the Supreme Court in response to Biden’s January memo to HHS to consider repealing the Protect Life Rule.
The attorneys general’s motion states in part: “Since its 1970 enactment, the law has funded non-abortion family planning. All the while, it has banned the use of Title X funds ‘in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.’”
Describing the use of Title X funds to promote or provide abortion services as illegal, Yost pledged in a statement, “I’m intervening to stop it, no matter what the president’s personal agenda may be.”
Other states joining the request for Supreme Court intervention include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron also issued a statement: “We will not stand by while the Biden Administration tries to weaken the protections against using federal dollars for abortions.
“We’ve filed this motion to ask the nation’s highest court to allow us to represent the interests and values of Kentuckians by defending the Title X rules and ensure that funding from that program is not used to support abortions,” he said.
The Title X program, enacted during the Nixon administration, grants hundreds of millions of dollars every year to health clinics across the country to provide contraceptives, cancer screenings, STD testing and other health care services to low-income patients.
The Trump administration’s Protect Life Rule further stipulated that Title X recipients can no longer make abortion referrals or be required to provide “non-directive counseling about the availability of abortion” according to the attorneys general’s court filing. The new rules also “required Title X recipients to maintain stricter physical and financial separation between the abortion services and programs that spend Title X money.”
Following the enactment of the 2019 Protect Life Rule, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, withdrew from the Title X family planning program.
Joining the motion for intervention by the Supreme Court filed by nineteen states is the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and the Catholic Medical Association.
The pro-life organizations are being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative law firm that regularly represents religious liberty cases before the Supreme Court.
Above: Members of Students for Life of America rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court to support Judge Amy Coney Barrett during the Senate nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on October 12.
Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Sipa USA [Photo via Newscom]