Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized the Protect Life Rule. The Protect Life Rule would remove an existing requirement that federally-funded family planning clinics offer abortion counseling and referrals. It would also ensure that family planning funds are used in accordance with federal law, which bars such funds from being used to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion. In addition, the Protect Life Rule would bar recipients of Title X funds from providing abortion services in the same facilities that house their Title X family planning programs. The rule was scheduled to take effect on May 3, 2019.
Sadly, the Protect Life Rule has suffered a setback in court. On April 25, 2019, Judge Stanley Bastian of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington issued a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of the Protect Life Rule while other legal challenges proceed. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and other abortion supporters “described the Protect Life Rule as a ‘gag rule’ on doctors”; apparently, the left finds government restraints on free speech unacceptable unless those restraints are directed at pro-life pregnancy centers. According to Townhall.com, Planned Parenthood is expected to lose approximately $60 million by refusing to comply with the Protect Life Rule if it goes into effect.
The federal court decision from Washington is a setback, but it is a temporary one. It remains to be seen how the federal courts will ultimately rule on this important issue.