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Federal judges: Family planning "gag rule" effective immediately

Pro-choice activists and politicians associated with Planned Parenthood. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A panel of 3 federal appeals judges ruled on Thursday that a family planning "gag rule" could take effect immediately, withdrawing up to $60 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood and similar reproductive-care providers, the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: "If the program refers patients to abortion providers for family planning services, then that program is logically one 'where abortion is a method of family planning,'" the panel wrote.

Why it matters: Millions — particularly low-income women — depend on these federal grants for services like birth control, cancer screening and other health-related tests. Some argue that this is yet another blow to women's rights since President Trump took office, while others fear the decision could imperil the health of millions of American women.

Details: The Trump administration's new rule, published in March, would render taxpayer-funded clinics unqualified to accept funding if they perform abortions or provide referrals. Diane Foley, deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services spoke of "grave concerns" that taxpayer dollars were illegally paying for abortions, thus justifying the new rule, per the Post. Some elements of the law, such as banning abortion referrals, will be effective immediately.

  • Planned Parenthood has long been targeted by social conservatives who have tried to redirect funding toward religious organizations that educate women on abstinence.

What's next: Planned Parenthood along with 21 state attorneys general who filed suit after the policy was introduced could appeal Thursday's decision; however, it seems unlikely the ruling would be overturned.

Go deeper: Trump weighs cutting Planned Parenthood's Title X funds