Rust v. Sullivan

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Rust v. Sullivan
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided May 23, 1991
Appealed from 2nd Circuit


In 1970, Congress passed Title X (Title 10) of the Public Health Service Act. This is a federal grant program for family planning.

Title X funds could not be used for the reproductive right to an abortion.

In 1988, the 17th US Health Secretary, Louis Wade Sullivan, announced that family planning clinics can't refer patients for abortion while receiving Title X family planning funds. Sullivan also stipulated that family planning centers under Title X couldn't productive abortion services.

Procedural History

Rust (medical care provider) and other filed a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional conditions for receipt of federal funds for family planning.


Rust argued that the Sullivan conditions violates the First Amendment on the basis of pro-choice speech.


In a 5-4 majority, SCOTUS held that restricting reproductive rights (abortion) as a condition for receiving family planning funds is permissible under the US Constitution.