American Medical Association petitions Supreme Court to review Title X ‘gag order’

Oct. 1 (UPI) — The American Medical Association led a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to review a Trump administration revised rule banning federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions.

The petition, filed alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, calls on the court to weigh conflicting decisions in a pair of appeals courts regarding the so-called “gag rule” earlier this year.

Under the revised rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2019, the government said it would require “clear financial and physical separation” between Title X-compliant facilities and those that provide abortions or abortion referrals.

“The AMA strongly believes that our nation’s highest court must step in to remove government overreach and interference in the patient-physician relationship. Restricting the information that physicians can provide to their Title X patients blocks honest, informed conversations about health care options — an unconscionable violation that is essentially a gag rule,” AMA President Susan Bailey said in a statement.

In February, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rule, stating that it allows family clinics to mention abortion, but not to refer or encourage it, and that it was a “reasonable interpretation” of federal law and was not “arbitrary and capricious,” as challengers including Planned Parenthood had argued.

However, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of the federal rule in Maryland earlier this month, saying the Trump administration’s rule revision “failed to recognize and address the ethical concerns of literally every major medical organization in the country.”

“The petitioners argue that until the Ninth CIrcuit’s erroneous decision is corrected, the administration’s gag rule is harming patient care and causing physicians and other health care professionals to violate ethical obligations by preventing Title X clinics from providing full information to patients about all of their reproductive care options,” AMA said.

The petition also comes as the Senate prepares to confirm President Donald Trump’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, shifting the court’s makeup to a 6-3 conservative majority following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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