The latest battle in the war on abortion has arrived: The Department of Health and Human Services announced a rule on Friday barring groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from federal family planning funds.
The move was billed by HHS as an overdue update to the Title X program and will direct the $286 million in funds away from Planned Parenthood and toward religious anti-abortion groups.
Pro-choice groups—as well as any other groups actually interested in protecting the rights and health of women in low-income areas—are expected to challenge the ruling in court. Clare Coleman, the president of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, told the Washington Post the change will cause “irreparable harm to the public’s health.” Planned Parenthood serves roughly 41 percent of all Title X patients and receives $60 million in federal funds from the program annually. The organization’s president spoke with the Post, saying the terms as set out in the rule would prevent medical experts from completing their ethical obligations to patients.
To be clear, groups receiving Title X funds were already banned from providing abortions. The ruling maintains that groups will now have to prove they are keeping “clear physical and financial separation” between government-funded services and organizations that either refer or provide abortions.
The ruling was also expected. Less than two weeks ago, Trump pushed the right wing’s favorite lie of the moment about infants being killed at birth. And over the past couple years, state legislatures across the nation have done everything in their power to effectively outlaw abortion. This has mainly consisted of legislatures passing what are known as heartbeat bills, which restrict any abortions after roughly six weeks into a pregnancy, though some like Ohio have floated such draconian measures as the death penalty for women who get abortions.
The ruling will go into effect 60 days after it’s been entered in the Federal Registrar.