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Federal judge blocks Trump administration's Title X abortion 'gag rule'

Updated 9:53 AM ET, Fri April 26, 2019

Washington (CNN) - A federal judge in Washington state on Thursday granted a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration's abortion clinic referral restriction.

The revised regulations to the Title X family planning program prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from talking about abortion with patients or referring patients to abortion providers. The administration's regulations were set to go into effect on May 3.

The Title X program serves approximately 4 million people a year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and clinics that don't abide by what opponents call a "gag rule" would be forced to forgo federal funding. Critics argue the regulations would affect low-income people, communities of color, the uninsured and rural residents the most.

"Today's ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women," Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a news release.

"Trump's 'gag rule' would have jeopardized healthcare access to women across the country," Ferguson continued. "Title X clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, provide essential services -- now they can keep serving women while we continue to fight to keep the federal government out of the exam room."

Kelly Laco, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, blasted the decision.

"A single district judge should not go beyond the parties before the court in an attempt to block executive branch actions. The Department of Justice's position is supported by long-standing Supreme Court precedent and should be upheld," Laco said in a statement.

In March, Ferguson filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking a federal court to block the administration's "gag rule" before it went into effect.

Twenty-two states sued over the administration's Title X changes.

In February, a group of 19 medical organizations representing 4.3 million health care providers signed a letter protesting the revisions. The health care providers represented include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Title X, established in 1970 during the Nixon administration, provides more than $250 million in funding to clinics that offer affordable birth control, cancer screening, STD testing and treatment, and other family planning services and reproductive health care.

Under current law, Title X funds may not be used to pay for abortions.


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