22 States Sue HHS for Barring Abortion Facilities and Referral Sites From Federal Family Planning Funding

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WASHINGTON — 22 states and the District of Columbia have filed suit against the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after it recently announced the finalization of its rule changes to the federal Title X family planning services funding program, which will disqualify abortion facilities, such as those run by Planned Parenthood, from receiving federal funds, as well as any locations that promote, support or refer for abortions.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was the first to sue, calling the rule “unlawful and unjustified,” as it “steers all pregnant women toward prenatal care and social services, regardless of whether the patient’s choice is to obtain information regarding pregnancy termination only.”

“The rule specifically targets and harms women,” the suit asserts. “In particular, the rule and the weakening of requirements for comprehensive, evidence-based reproductive healthcare adversely targets and invidiously discriminates against women.”

Read the lawsuit in full here. 

On Tuesday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum led a multi-state lawsuit to likewise challenge the rule. States that joined the legal challenge include New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Hawaii.

“[T]he final rule requires strict, unnecessary, and arbitrary financial and physical separation of any Title-X-funded provider from all facilities and entities that have virtually anything to do with abortion,” it reads.

“This change would require providers who provide abortions or who offer truly non-directive pregnancy counseling, including abortion referrals, to dramatically restructure their activities to continue offering these services regardless of their financial ability to restructure or the needs of their patients.”

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The suit further argues that “[t]he final rule would, if implemented, force clinics to close or reduce their services to the detriment of their patients, because many clinics could or would not restructure as required but could no longer remain open or maintain service levels without Title X funds.”

Read the lawsuit in full here.

As previously reported, the changes issued by HHS last month revert to the 1988 standard under the Reagan administration that disqualified family planning organizations from receiving Title X funds if abortions are performed in the same building where contraceptives and other family planning services are offered.

Abortion providers would either have to divide their services into two separate physical locations, or lose funding.

“This rule will require Title X providers to maintain physical and financial separation from locations which provide abortion as a method of family planning,” a document released by HHS outlines.

“This physical and financial separation will ensure compliance with the statutory requirement that Title X funding not support programs where abortion is a method of family planning—and is consistent with the plain text of Section 1008, legislative history, and case law,” it states.

The rule change will also remove a requirement under the Clinton administration to refer for abortions. However, not only will recipients now not be mandated to refer, but they are completely prohibited from doing so. Title X grantees also many not “perform, promote, or support abortion as a method of family planning.”

HHS explained that it does not believe that the Clinton-era rule is “appropriate or permissible.”

“[T]he department believes the referral requirement is in conflict with federal conscience protections, such as the Church, Coats-Snowe, and Weldon Amendments, for individual and institutional entities which object, and is finalizing the proposal to remove that requirement from the regulations,” it outlined.

“Furthermore, the department believes that, in most instances when a referral is provided for abortion, that referral necessarily treats abortion as a method of family planning.”

Therefore, not only will Planned Parenthood entities that currently receive Title X funding not be allowed to provide family planning services in the same building in which abortions are performed, those locations that do not perform abortions are additionally barred from referring any woman for a termination—or even promoting abortion as a method of family planning.

The rules may—in effect—defund the vast majority, if not all, of the nation’s Planned Parenthood locations.

As previously reported, according to Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report, the entity received $563 million in government grants and funds in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, up from $543 million in 2016-2017. Approximately $60 million surrounds Title X. It also received $630 million from private donors.

With all the sources of income combined, Planned Parenthood generated over $1.66 billion in revenue throughout the fiscal year.

And despite its expenditures, which included $115 million for “advocacy,” $48 million for sexual education, and $40 million on public policy—that is to influence legislation nationwide, the abortion giant still garnered a $244 million dollar profit, labeled as “excess of revenue.”

Planned Parenthood’s report provided a tally of 332,757 babies that were aborted at its facilities in 2017-2018, up more than 11,000 from the year prior.

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