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Rust v. Sullivan (1991)

In Brief

Rust v. Sullivan (1990): Court upholds restriction on use of federal funds for abortion counseling, referral, and advocacy

In 1970 Congress passed Title X of the Public Health Service Act which provides federal funding for family planning services but prohibits funds for "programs where abortion is a method of family planning." In 1988, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan issued regulations prohibiting abortion counseling, referral, and advocacy with Title X funds.

A group of Title X grantees filed suit claiming the regulations were unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the regulations do not force grantees to give up abortion-related speech but merely to keep it separate from the Title X project, the regulations do not violate the right to choose abortion because the Government is not bound to subsidize activities that are constitutionally protected, and the regulations are not discriminatory because the Government may make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion and implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds.

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