By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – A federal judge in Washington state on Thursday blocked a Trump administration cutoff of U.S. subsidies for poor women obtaining birth control from Planned Parenthood and other clinics that offer abortion services or information to patients, according to the state attorney general.
The preliminary injunction bars enforcement nationwide of a policy due to go into effect on May 3 over the vehement objections of abortion supporters, who have decried it as a “gag rule” that would prevent doctors from doing their jobs.
“Today’s ruling ensures that clinics across the nation can remain open and continue to provide quality, unbiased healthcare to women,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement announcing the decision.
Washington state was a named plaintiff in the court challenge, along with the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, capped a hearing in which oral arguments were presented by each side.
A federal judge in Oregon earlier this week said he intended to grant a preliminary injunction in a similar but separate court case brought there by Oregon, 19 other states and the District of Columbia.
Yet another lawsuit challenging the new restrictions on the federal government’s Title X funding for reproductive healthcare and family planning services is pending in Maine.
The restrictions are aimed at fulfilling President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end federal support for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions and other health services for women under Title X.
Congress appropriated $286 million in Title X grants in 2017 to Planned Parenthood and other health centers to provide birth control, screening for diseases and other reproductive health and counseling to low-income women.
The funding is already prohibited from being used for abortions, but abortion opponents have long complained that the money in effect subsidizes Planned Parenthood as a whole.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown)