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Rust v. Sullivan

United States Supreme Court
500 U.S. 173 (1991)


Facts

In 1970, Congress enacted Title X of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) that provided federal funding for family planning services. However, the PHSA specified that none of the federal funds were to be used in programs where abortion was considered a method of family planning. In 1988, Sullivan (defendant), the Secretary of Health and Human Services, issued new regulations that attached three principal conditions on the grant of federal funds for Title X projects. Firstly, Title X projects could not provide counseling concerning the use of or provide referral for abortion as a method of family planning. Secondly, projects could not engage in activities that encouraged, promoted, or advocated abortion as a method of family planning. Thirdly, Title X projects were required to be organized so they were physically and financially separate from prohibited abortion activities. Before the new regulations could be applied, however, Rust and others similarly situated (plaintiffs)—Title X grantees and doctors who supervised Title X funds—brought suit in federal district court challenging the regulations’ validity and seeking an injunction to prevent their implementation. The district court upheld the regulations as constitutional, and the court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

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Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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