Trump administration rules that impose additional hurdles for low-income women seeking abortions are on hold once again.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday vacated a unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel and said a slate of 11 judges will reconsider lawsuits brought by more than 20 states and several civil rights and health organizations challenging the rules.
The rules ban taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals and prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers.
Critics say the rule would force many clinics to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down.
Federal judges in Washington, Oregon and California blocked the rules from taking effect. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Oregon called the new policy “madness” and said it was motivated by “an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers.”
A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit overruled them two weeks ago. The judges called the rules “reasonable” and said they accord with a federal law that prohibits taxpayer funds from going to “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
With that decision vacated, the injunctions issued by the lower court judges are once again in effect. It’s not clear when new court arguments will be held.
“We are profoundly grateful the preliminary injunction is back in place,” said Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which is involved in the cases.
She said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had not yet been enforcing the new rules, even though the three-judge panel’s ruling had given it the green light to do so.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.