A federal judge in Oregon said late Tuesday night he would block the Trump administration’s controversial overhaul of the Title X federal family planning program and indicated he would issue a formal opinion soon.
U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane, an Obama appointee, said he’ll grant a preliminary injunction against changes set to go into effect May 3 that would strip funding from any participating family planning organization that offers abortions or refers patients to abortion providers — a provision critics have labeled a “gag rule.”
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McShane heard arguments in a pair of suits filed by Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association and by a coalition of more than 20 states. Plaintiffs say the administration rule issued in February should be struck down or blocked, arguing it interferes with patients’ rights to counseling on pregnancy options and oversteps the administration’s authority.
The judge, according to a report in The Oregonian, called the Trump restrictions a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy.” However, his ruling may be limited in scope, because he said he was reluctant to set “national health care’’ policy.
Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement the development was “a victory for patients and doctors” and vowed to continue to fight the administration in court and in Congress.
The American Medical Association, in a statement, said the rule would have created obstacles to health care for low-income patients. “We are pleased the judge shared the AMA’s concern about the physician-patient relationship that the rule would have jeopardized,” said the physician group’s president Barbara McAneny.
Nearly two dozen states and several medical provider and advocacy groups have filed a series of suits to block the Title X change. Similar arguments were heard last week in San Francisco, and additional hearings will be held this week in Maine and Washington state.
The Trump administration maintains the Supreme Court upheld a similar Title X rule issued by the Reagan administration that was never fully implemented. The Justice Department also argued the rule is justified because, despite a longstanding ban on federal funding for abortions, groups like Planned Parenthood could “co-mingle” their federal income for contraceptive services and screenings with other funding used for abortion care.
Alice Miranda Ollstein contributed to this report.