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The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday blocked the enforcement of the Trump administration's rules that prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics under the Title X program in Maryland from providing or making abortion referrals.

Why it matters: Thursday's decision in the Virginia-based federal court is at odds with a ruling in the California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the rules and allowed them to take effect. The division means the Supreme Court may be more likely to take up the issue.

What they're saying: The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration "failed to recognize and address the ethical concerns of literally every major medical organization in the country," and "arbitrarily estimated the cost" to clinics in implementing the rules.

Context: Title X is a $286 million federal family planning program that primarily serves low-income individuals.

  • Last year, Planned Parenthood and some states withdrew from the program to avoid complying with the Trump administration's rule changes.
  • Abortion rights supporters have referred to the changes as a "gag rule," saying the orders hurt the relationship between women and their doctors, who have to limit the information they can provide. They also say the rules would force some abortion providers to shut down or undergo expensive remodels, hurting access to reproductive health services broadly.
  • Abortion rights opponents have long argued that the Title X program indirectly subsidizes abortion services. Providers were already barred from using federal funds for abortion services.

Of note: Thursday's decision, which involved a lawsuit by Baltimore's mayor and city council, only applies to the state of Maryland.

  • "Today’s ruling will continue to prevent this terrible rule from further harming family planning providers and their patients across the state of Maryland. Unfortunately, the court did not take the opportunity to bring the desperately needed relief to the nationwide family planning provider network that is appropriate under and required by federal law," Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement.

Go deeper: Read the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 24, 2020 - Energy & Environment

California war over gas-free cars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The fate of California's aggressive moves to wring carbon emissions out of transportation could depend heavily on the election and the shape of the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: California is the country's largest auto market and transportation is the country's largest source of CO2.

Fed chair says he isn't concerned by Delta surge

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice last month. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

One of the country's most influential economic officials doesn't anticipate that surging coronavirus cases will knock the reopening recovery off course.

What he's saying: "There has tended to be less economic implications from each [coronavirus] wave. We'll see if that's the case for the Delta variety," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters today.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ubisoft workers demand company accountability in open letter

Photo: Frederic Brown / Getty Images

Close to 500 current and former employees of “Assassin’s Creed” publisher Ubisoft are standing in solidarity with protesting game developers at Activision Blizzard with a letter that criticizes their company's handling of sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard workers are framing the actions as part of a bigger movement meant to have lasting change in the industry and its culture.

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