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9th Circuit takes up appeal of abortion counseling, referral ban

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A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday agreed to reconsider whether to block a new rule by the administration of President Donald Trump that would bar federally funded family planning clinics from providing abortion referrals.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said an 11-judge panel will be convened to review a decision by a three-judge panel that allowed the rule to take effect.

The smaller panel on June 20 issued a stay of three preliminary injunctions by federal judges in three states that halted implementation of the rule established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The stay would have allowed the rule to go into effect while the Department of Justice conducts a full appeal of the injunctions, which could take months. But today’s order sets aside that stay until the 11-judge panel issues a decision.

The preliminary injunctions were issued by federal judges in San Francisco, Oregon and Washington in lawsuits filed by a total of 21 states, including California, and several doctors, clinics and Planned Parenthood branches.

The regulation would prohibit doctors and other health care providers at the clinics from giving abortion referrals or encouraging abortions. Previously, the federal funded clinics were not allowed to provide abortions, but were allowed to provide neutral abortion counseling.

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