(REVISED 8.20.2020) Just days after the Trump Administration published its Domestic Gag Rule, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a case on behalf of Maine Family Planning (MFP)--the largest reproductive health care organization in the state and its sole Title X family planning program grantee--asking the District Court of Maine to block the rule, parts of which take effect on May 3, 2019. If enacted, the rule could eliminate 85% of abortion clinics in the state of Maine, with all but one of MFP’s 18 clinics being forced to cease abortion services.
The Domestic Gag Rule will:
- Force healthcare providers that receive federal funding like MFP to stop performing abortions, even though no federal funds are used to finance abortion.
- Prohibit doctors at these facilities from making referrals to abortion providers, even when the patient has already decided to have an abortion and directly asks for a referral.
- Force doctors to instead give all pregnant patients prenatal referrals, even when the patient doesn’t want one.
- Give Title X funding to non-medical organizations known as “crisis pregnancy centers”, which are designed to look like medical clinics but aim to deter women from getting abortions.
The Title X program was created nearly 50 years ago to ensure low-income Americans can afford birth control and other reproductive healthcare. Each year, the Title X program provides 4 million low-income patients with affordable birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings and more. In fact, 60% of women get their usual medical care from a Title X-supported healthcare center. In Maine, 23,800 low-income people receive Title X services every year, the large majority of which are women seeking birth control. Independent providers around the country, like MFP, serve a crucial role in making this healthcare available and affordable to women and families.
Plaintiff(s): The Family Planning Association of Maine d/b/a Maine Family Planning
Center Attorney(s): Emily Nestler
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Emily Ullman and Jennifer Saperstein with Covington & Burling LLP; Richard O’Meara with Murray Plumb & Murray
We filed our complaint in federal district court on March 6, 2019 and filed our request for a preliminary injunction on March 25. Our request was denied July 3, and Maine Family Planning has withdrawn from the Title X program for the time being. In January 2020, the federal government filed a motion to dismiss the case or grant summary judgment in the government’s favor. We filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and on June 9, the district court granted the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case. We have filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.