Trump abortion policy targeting Planned Parenthood halted by California lawsuit

California has temporarily halted the Trump administration’s attempts to deny federal money to organizations in the state like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion referrals, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday.

California officials sued to block the rule in March. A U.S. district court judge granted a preliminary injunction in the case Friday, delaying implementation of the rule in California while the challenge makes its way through the courts.

The Trump administration regulation would restrict funding to hundreds of family planning organizations by withholding federal funds currently used for health care services ranging from cancer screenings to contraception.

U.S. law prohibits the use of so-called Title X funding for abortion. Anti-abortion groups viewed the Trump administration’s rule as a way to ensure those funds aren’t used to promote abortion.

California Democrats who oppose the regulation called it a “gag rule” that would harm women’s health.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for women and their healthcare providers in California,” Becerra said in a statement. “Today’s ruling blocks the Trump Administration from yet another attempt to roll back women’s health by implementing their dangerous and illegal gag rule.”

Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California ruled that the state provided sufficient evidence to show the rule would harm California, but said the state failed to prove the rule should be blocked nationwide.

California receives the largest share of Title X funds in the country. More than 350 Title X service sites operated in California in 2017, 102 of which were Planned Parenthood centers, According to the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

In 2017 those sites received $20 million in federal funding and served over 1 million patients. That’s more than a quarter of those served by the program nationwide, according to the association.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune