AG Ferguson asks court to block Trump’s family planning ‘gag rule’

Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking a federal court judge to block the Trump Administration’s family planning “gag rule” before the rule goes into effect.

The rule impacts Title X, the federal funding program for reproductive healthcare and family planning services.

The motion, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, asks the judge to block the rule while Ferguson’s lawsuit against it is pending. The lawsuit was filed on March 5.

The rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on May 3. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Thursday, April 25.

The Trump Administration’s new rule imposes a “gag” on Title X providers that prohibits them from referring their patients to abortion providers. It also requires Title X providers to refer each pregnant patient into a prenatal care program, regardless of the patient’s wishes or the provider’s medical judgment.

The rule also requires clinics that also provide any abortion care or referrals to create a physical wall between their family planning functions and their abortion services, requiring seperate entrances and exits, treatment facilities, and personnel as well as duplicate health care records.

“This rule is a transparent attack on Planned Parenthood that disproportionately harms low-income women in rural Washington,” said Ferguson. “It will shutter clinics that provide almost 90 percent of Title X services in Washington, jeopardizing healthcasre access for tens of thousands of Washingtonians. It inserts politics into the doctor-patient relationship. It should not go into effect before the court has a chance to make a decision.”

In Washington, 91,284 patients received care through Title X in 2017. More than half of these patients were at or below the federal poverty line. THe Washington State Department of Health estimates that services provided to these patients prevented over 18,000 unintended pregnancies and over 6,000 abortions, resulting in savings for the state of more than $113 million.

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