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Judge says he'll block Trump policy aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen

A federal judge in Oregon said he plans to block a Trump administration policy change that would have restricted some health clinics from referring patients to abortion providers. It's unclear whether the injunction will be applied nationally or just in the state.

The judge in Oregon, U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane, called the proposals a "ham-fisted approach to public policy" after hearing oral arguments on Tuesday. He said he would issue a written opinion to clarify the scope of his decision, according to a Planned Parenthood spokesperson. 

"This is a victory for patients and doctors in this country," said Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of American, in a written statement.

In February, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a 312-page filing that announced sweeping changes to Title X, the federal program that provides birth control, cancer screenings, and other reproductive health related services to low-income women. The rule changes were set to take effect on May 3.

In the proposed changes, the agency wrote that "none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning." If the changes aren't blocked, Planned Parenthood and other recipients of Title X funds would be required to physically separate facilities that provide abortion.

Since Title X was enacted in 1970, its funds have always been prohibited from paying for abortion services. While health clinics that provide abortions are eligible for the funds, the specific Title X money isn't allowed to go toward anything related to providing the procedure.

The case in Oregon is one of 20 that have sought injunctions against the changes to Title X funding.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Maine will hear arguments on the same issue and decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction. If the rule goes into effect, it would effectively close 85 percent of the state's abortion clinics, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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