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Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers

Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Azar

Overview

Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Azar (U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, September 3, 2020): In a split decision, the Fourth Circuit held that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could not enforce a rule banning federally-funded health care providers from referring patients for abortion, instead requiring them to refer patients to prenatal care. The rule also required federally-funded entities providing separately funded abortion services to physically separate those services from federally-funded ones. The court blocked the rule in Maryland, writing that HHS policy “failed to recognize and address the ethical concerns of literally every major medical organization in the country.” The rule contravenes a mandate barring HHS from placing “unreasonable barriers” between patients and appropriate health care. HHS also improperly estimated physical separation costs in an arbitrary and capricious manner. Read the full opinion here

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – November 16, 2020.

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