The Reagan administration's attempt to prevent federally financed family planning clinics from counseling women about abortion was unconstitutional, an appeals court said in upholding an injunction.
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a 1988 nationwide injunction blocking the regulations from taking effect."This is a resounding victory for a woman's right to make a most personal decision without government interference," said state Attorney General James Shannon, who sought the injunction along with 14 national family planning associations.
"These regulations would have prevented health care professionals from advising their patients on the basis of sound medical judgment," he said.
The regulations, passed under the Reagan administration, sought to eliminate federal funding to family planning groups that counseled women about abortions. The rules also sought to force the groups to close or relocate if they shared space with anyone offering abortion counseling or referrals.
Nabers Cabaniss, director of the Title X program at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency would have no comment until it had studied the ruling. Title X authorized federal financing of private and public family planning services.
In affirming the injunction ordered by U.S. District Judge Walter Skinner, the appeals court said a prohibition on abortion counseling or referral "imposes constraints upon a woman's freedom to make reproductive decisions."
Relying on the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, the appeals court said that by imposing the regulations, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Otis R. Bowen "has gone beyond a mere refusal to fund and has interfered with the decisional process by dictating what information a woman may receive and by intruding into her relationship with her physician."