U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said he would issue a preliminary injunction to block a new Trump administration rule aimed at keeping Title X fund recipients from engaging in abortion-related activities, according to Maxine Bernstein at The Oregonian. Bernstein also reported that McShane called the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy” in remarks following oral argument on April 23. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on May 3, 2019, and more lawsuits against the rule are pending in other courts. McShane “isn’t certain how many jurisdictions the injunction will cover,” according to the Portland Mercury.
In this case, attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia joined together to sue the Trump administration. The final rule issued by HHS prohibits using Title X funds to perform, promote, or refer for abortion as a family planning method. The rule also requires clear financial and physical separation for clinics conducting Title X and non-Title X activities.
Supporters say the new rule updates Title X regulations to bring them in line with congressional intent not to support abortion with those funds. Opponents of the new Title X rule call it a gag rule because it prohibits fund recipients from referring patients for abortion services.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar rule in the 1991 case Rust v. Sullivan, but the rule never went into effect once Bill Clinton became president. In response to the federal government’s attorney citing Rust, Judge McShane asked whether the rule would bring about good health outcomes, according to Bernstein’s reporting.
A final rule, in the context of administrative rulemaking, is a federal administrative regulation that went through the proposed rule and public comment stages of the rulemaking process and is published in the Federal Register with a scheduled effective date. The published final rule marks the last stage in the rulemaking process and includes information about the rationale for the regulation as well as any necessary responses to public comments.