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Federal judge blocks Trump Admin family planning “gag rule” nationwide

Preliminary injunction blocks the rule before its May 3 effective date

This press release was provided by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.


Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement today after a federal judge granted a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Trump Administration’s Title X family planning “gag rule.” The rule, which was scheduled to go into effect on May 3, impacts Title X, the federal funding program for reproductive healthcare and family planning services.

“Today’s ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women,” Ferguson said. “Trump’s ‘gag rule’ would have jeopardized healthcare access to women across the country. Title X clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, provide essential services – now they can keep serving women while we continue to fight to keep the federal government out of the exam room.”

“This is a major victory for millions of Americans whose healthcare is at stake under President Trump’s dangerous and legally indefensible gag rule,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “Washington has always been a state that stands with women and their right to safe and legal reproductive healthcare, and today we are proud to be keeping women’s health care secure in all 50 states. We won’t stop fighting until this unconscionable policy is defeated for good.”

In his ruling from the bench today, Judge Stanley Bastian stated, “There is no public interest in perpetuating unlawful agency action.”

Case background

On March 5, Ferguson filed a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s Title X “gag rule,” which prohibits Title X providers 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 provide any abortion care or referrals to create a physical wall between their family planning functions and their abortion services, requiring separate entrances and exits, treatment facilities, and personnel as well as duplicate health care records. Clinics have one year to comply with costly, time-consuming and counterproductive physical separation requirements, which will be impossible for many clinics.

On March 22, Ferguson filed a motion for preliminary injunction asking the court to block the rule before its effective date. In order to grant the preliminary injunction, the judge had to find that Ferguson’s lawsuit against the Administration is likely to succeed and that the rule, if not blocked, would cause irreparable harm to Washington state and its residents. A preliminary injunction is not the judge’s final decision — its purpose is to block the rule until the case is ultimately decided.

Assistant Attorneys General Jeff Sprung, Kristin Beneski and Paul Crisalli are handling the case for Washington. More information about Washington’s case is available here.

Attorney General Ferguson has previously taken on the Trump Administration in an effort to protect women’s reproductive rights. Ferguson joined three other attorneys general in July to urge the Trump Administration to withdraw the proposed rule. Last year, Ferguson filed a lawsuit to block the Administration’s rules undermining women’s access to contraception. Two federal judges temporarily halted the rules’ implementation in separate cases across the nation.

Ferguson has filed 35 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson now has 21 legal victories against the Trump Administration. Eleven of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has or may appeal the other 10, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers and 3D-printed guns. After more than two years of litigation, no court to rule on the merits of the Attorney General’s arguments in a lawsuit against the Trump Administration has ruled against the office.