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AUL Tells Ninth Circuit that Parties Challenging Title X ‘Protect Life Rule’ Really Want to Promote Access to Abortion

On Friday, Americans United for Life filed four “friend of the court” briefs in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Title X rule finalized and published in March.

Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which was enacted to provide financial support for health care organizations offering family planning services, statutorily prohibits Title X funds from going to programs that use or promote abortion as a method of family planning. Last year, HHS proposed a rule to increase compliance with Title X’s statutory mandates by requiring program participants to maintain physical and financial separation between their abortion services and Title X projects, as well as prohibiting direct abortion counseling and abortion referrals. AUL submitted a comment in support of the proposed rule, popularly known as the “Protect Life Rule.”

The rule was scheduled to go into effect on May 3rd, but eight different pro-abortion groups filed legal challenges against the final Title X rule, including two challenges in California, two in Oregon, and two in Washington. Each of the district court judges in California, Oregon, and Washington issued an order temporarily stopping the rule from going into effect. HHS appealed to the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to reverse the three orders in four separate cases. AUL filed briefs in each of the four cases: California v. AzarEssential Access Health v. AzarOregon v. Azar, and Washington v. Azar

AUL’s briefs point out that all of the plaintiffs in the cases voice numerous complaints about how the Protect Life Rule will impede access to abortion, and explain that these complaints reveal that the plaintiffs’ real problem is with Title X’s underlying statutory prohibition against abortion as a method of family planning.

“It is shocking that despite Title X’s statutory exclusion of abortion from the scope of Title X projects and funding, plaintiffs in the California, Oregon, and Washington Title X legal challenges all complain about how the rule will impede access to abortion,” said Rachel Morrison, AUL Litigation Counsel. “If Plaintiffs leave Title X as they threaten to do, it will be because they are choosing abortion over Title X services, not because the rule is forcing them out.”