21 States and D.C. Sue Over Trump Administration's Move to Bar Abortion Facilities From Title X Funding

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Posted: Mar 04, 2019 5:45 PM
21 States and D.C. Sue Over Trump Administration's Move to Bar Abortion Facilities From Title X Funding

Source: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a group of 20 states announced separate lawsuits Monday against the Trump administration’s “Protect Life” rule which will partially defund Planned Parenthood along with other abortion providers due to new requirements that federal Title X family planning funds cannot go to abortion facilities. The rule also forbids Title X locations from giving abortion referrals.

In a statement, Becerra claimed that the rule would deny “patients access to critical health care services and prevents doctors from providing comprehensive and accurate information about medical care.”

Both lawsuits are calling for an injunction to stop the HHS rule from taking effect as scheduled in 60 days.

The new rule specifically prohibits “referral for abortion as a method of family planning,” but does not bar “nondirective counseling on abortion.” Nevertheless, its opponents have labeled it as a “gag rule” due to the ban on abortion referrals.

According to HHS, the rule simply calls for “clear financial and physical separation between Title X funded projects and programs or facilities where abortion is a method of family planning." The separation "will ensure adherence to statutory restrictions, and provide needed clarity for the public and for Title X clinics about permissible and impermissible activities for Title X projects.”

The multistate lawsuit includes Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

"What this new rule means is that providers who receive Title X funding will have to decide whether they will refuse the funding or 'cave' to the requirements of this new rule,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum commented Monday. “Neither is a good or fair option for women and families who often have no other access to medical care.”

Becerra announced his lawsuit Monday at a news conference alongside Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. The group runs 13 percent of Title X centers and serves about 41 percent of Title X patients, according to their website. Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million from the program.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, who heads the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, defended the rule Monday after the lawsuits were announced.

“Planned Parenthood’s allies are running to court to ensure taxpayers are forced to continue filling the coffers of the abortion industry,” Dannenfelser said. “Contrary to pro-abortion misinformation, the Protect Life Rule does not cut Title X funding by a single dime – it simply enforces the existing statute that draws a bright line of separation between abortion and family planning. President Trump and Secretary Azar acted on the will of the American people by disentangling taxpayers from the big abortion industry. Similar regulations have already been upheld by the Supreme Court and we are confident the Trump administration will prevail.”

Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, applauded the rule and pointed out that the Supreme Court had already upheld a similar Reagan-era rule.

“Since it began in 1970, Title X has excluded elective abortions from its grant program, reflecting the commitment of the majority of Americans not to have their hard-earned tax dollars subsidize Planned Parenthood and other members of the abortion industry," she said in a statement Monday. "HHS’s new regulation makes this rule clearer for everyone involved, and its terms have already been upheld by the Supreme Court during the Reagan Administration." 

"It’s a ‘win-win’ all around, so naturally, only Planned Parenthood and its apologists could object to it,” she added.