A federal appeals court refused Thursday to put a hold on President Trump’s new rule denying funds to family planning clinics that make referrals for abortion.
The order by an 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was a setback for Planned Parenthood and other groups facing the loss of substantial federal assistance.
Last week, the 9th Circuit announced that a majority of active judges had voted to reconsider a three-judge panel’s decision in favor of Trump. Abortion rights activists expressed relief and hope they would eventually prevail.
But the order issued Thursday revealed that seven of the 11 judges randomly selected to reconsider the case were appointed by Republican presidents, including two chosen by Trump.
The jurists are Clinton appointees Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, Kim McLane Wardlaw, William A. Fletcher and Richard Paez; Reagan appointee Edward Leavy; George W. Bush appointees Jay S. Bybee, Milan Dale Smith Jr., Consuelo M. Callahan and Sandra Segal Ikuta; and Trump appointees Eric D. Miller and Kenneth K. Lee.
The four Clinton appointees on the panel dissented. They would have blocked Trump’s rule from being enforced pending a final decision in the case. It is unclear when that might come, though the order said the panel will move “expeditiously.”
The new rule, announced earlier this year, requires recipients of family planning funds to refer pregnant women to a non-abortion prenatal care provider.
Planned Parenthood, which has said it would not comply with the rule, faces the loss of nearly $60 million in federal funds annually.
Under the rule, recipients of federal funds may give women a list of providers that includes doctors who perform abortions but may not direct them to those physicians.
The rule also requires providers to encourage patients to discuss their situation with their families and to tell single women about the benefits of abstinence.
Julie Rabinovitz, president and CEO of Essential Access Health, one of the challengers in the case, called the 9th Circuit decision “a setback.”
“Today’s court order completely disregards the irreparable harm the regulations pose to millions of patients,” she said.