A panel of Republican-appointed judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just delivered a devastating blow to four million low-income patients who rely on health care through Title X health centers, including Planned Parenthood.
The judges upheld the Trump administration’s so-called family planning “gag rule” that denies federal funding to clinics that refer patients for abortion. This ruling comes despite four different lower-court judges previously putting a halt on the rule.
The Trump administration’s gag rule, which could go into effect in every state except Maryland if this ruling stands, prevents any Title X funding from being distributed to health care providers who counsel their patients on abortion access. But by denying this funding to clincs such as Planned Parenthood, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have not only blocked women’s access to abortions, but also to birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and other essential reproductive health care services. The gag rule does nothing but force hard-right extremism on women who need health care, most of whom are low-income, women of color. Once again, when it comes to the Trump administration, the cruelty is the point, and these Republican-appointed judges on the Ninth Circuit are just fine with that.
This is why the courts need to become a central issue for progressive voters. Trump has had a historic run stacking our judiciary with unqualified conservative extremists, and more decisions like these will be the consequence.
It’s more important than ever before that we confront Trump’s judicial takeover. This means Senate Democrats must stop supporting the confirmation of his nominees, and it means rallying around an agenda to make structural reforms to the courts if Democrats win in 2020.