SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra petitioned the Ninth Circuit to grant en banc reconsideration of a ruling by one of its motions panels that allows the Trump-Pence Administration’s abortion gag rule to go into effect while litigation is in progress. The ruling allows the Administration to prohibit doctors and other medical providers from giving factual, unbiased information to pregnant patients about their healthcare options including abortion.
“We are asking the Ninth Circuit to reconsider the three-judge panel’s order,” said Attorney General Becerra. “If this Administration’s unlawful Title X rule goes into effect, women’s access to reproductive care including abortion will be compromised and our state’s public health and fiscal integrity damaged.”
On May 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a proposed rule that would place several harmful restrictions on the Title X family planning program. California is home to the largest Title X program in the nation. Attorney General Becerra announced his legal concerns shortly after the proposed rule became public. On July 18, 2018, Attorney General Becerra requested that the Office of Management and Budget reopen its review of the rule given the insufficient and controversial reasoning offered by the Administration for its proposed changes. On July 30, 2018, he led a coalition of 13 attorneys general in filing a comment letter opposing the Trump-Pence Administration’s proposal. Attorney General Becerra also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on August 28, 2018, seeking documentation about the formulation of the proposal. On March 8, 2019 Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit challenging the final rule in the Northern District Court of California, claiming the proposed restrictions to Title X disregard the rule of law.
On April 26, 2019, the district court concluded that implementing the rule while those challenges are litigated would be highly disruptive and would result in irreparable harm to public health, causing an exodus of high-quality Title X providers who cannot accept restrictions requiring them to compromise the quality of care they provide and violate standards of medical ethics. Two other district courts entered similar orders. On June 20, 2019, a panel of three Ninth Circuit judges stayed all three injunctions against the rule, pending appeal. The filing seeks en banc reconsideration of that ruling.
A copy of the filing can be found here.