September 7, 2020

4th Circuit Blocks Enforcement of Title X "Protect Life Rule" in Maryland

On Thursday last week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Trump administration's "Protect Life Rule." The rule requires recipients of Title X funding to not provide abortion, refer patients to abortion providers, or co-locate with organizations that provide abortions. The ruling, which conflicts with a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, means that Maryland is now the only state that does not have to conform to the Trump administration's rule.

In an 8-6 decision, the court upheld an April decision denying a Trump administration motion to stay an injunction against the rule.

Judge Stephanie Thacker wrote for the majority, saying the administration, “failed to recognize and address the ethical concerns of literally every major medical organization in the country, and it arbitrarily estimated the cost” associated with the new regulations.

“Moreover, considering the time-sensitive nature of pregnancy and access to legal abortion, this attempt to hoodwink patients creates ‘unreasonable barriers’ to ‘appropriate medical care,’ and ‘impedes timely access’ to health care services.”

Due to the conflicting rulings from the 4th and 9th circuits, a resolution from the Supreme Court is likely.

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