21 State Attorneys General to Sue Over Title X “Gag Rule”

March 4, 2019
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Statements from each of the Attorneys General joining the national lawsuit

A coalition of 21 State Attorneys General announced today they will challenge the constitutionality of the Trump Administration’s new “gag rule” altering the Title X family planning program. The national lawsuit will be filed tomorrow Tuesday, March 5th, in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon. The national lawsuit is being led by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The rule relates to funding for Title X, the only federal grant program that funds family planning programs to help patient’s access contraception, cancer screenings, exams, and other related health services. Informally, opponents of the new rule are referring to it as a “gag rule” because it places an unlawful and unethical restriction on health care professionals and prohibits them in most instances from providing information or referrals for abortion services.

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

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum: “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. Neither is a good or fair option for women and families who often have no other access to medical care. I’m proud that Oregon is taking the lead in this important lawsuit. Oregonians have voted time and time again to support women’s reproductive health freedoms.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James: “Title X was meant to support access to health care and family planning services. These new rules are antithetical to the purpose of Title X and will hurt millions of Americans. We will not stand by as this federal government attacks our rights and our access to health care.

Statements from the Attorneys General:

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser: “Title X is a critical source of healthcare funding in Colorado. In 2017, Colorado received $3.8 million in federal funding, which provided a range of services—including general health screenings and a broad range of family planning methods—to more than 55,000 Coloradans throughout the state. These restrictions threaten to undermine healthcare providers’ ability to serve their patients professionally. If these rules go into effect, Colorado will see an increase in teen births, unintended pregnancies, and abortions.”

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong: “The domestic gag rule is a direct threat to over 45,000 individuals in Connecticut who rely on Title X clinics for safe, affordable health care. Connecticut is prepared to join our sister states in legal action to block the Trump administration from pushing a politically-motivated, anti-choice agenda on millions of individuals nationwide. Women have a right to safe, affordable reproductive health care free from political interference.”
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings: “Access to basic family planning should never be secondary to a political agenda. The Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine reproductive rights are cruel, ineffective, and harmful. Rather than preventing unwanted pregnancies or promoting effective alternatives to abortion, the Title X changes threaten millions of people’s access to family planning services, restrict doctors’ freedom to provide quality medical advice, and threaten to close down health care facilities that are often the only show in town for low-income or uninsured Americans.”

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors: “These new rules would, if implemented, directly harm Hawaii families, particularly women, by limiting their access to comprehensive quality health care. The changes would significantly decrease funding for medical services to uninsured, under-insured, and low-income individuals.”

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul: “Title X allows the state of Illinois to provide critical funding to 28 agencies around the state, which provide vital health care services to tens of thousands of Illinois’ most vulnerable residents. Those who will suffer the most under the administration’s proposed rule are those who can least afford it: women, children and men who are uninsured, underinsured or living at or below the federal poverty level.”

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh: “The Trump Administration’s new Title X rules jeopardize the health and access to family planning services for millions of women across the country. We are taking legal action to stop this assault on women’s rights to choose.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey: “These regulations are a direct attack on the health care of millions of low-income women and will interfere with access to critical services. We are taking action to protect the ability of women in Massachusetts and across the country to make fully informed decisions about their health care.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel: “Tens of thousands of Michigan residents utilize the vitally important high-quality health care supported by Title X funds. These services ¬– which include breast and cervical screening, well-woman exams, STI screenings and treatment, and many reproductive services including health, education and counseling – are provided at 93 clinic sites in 72 out of 83 counties in our state and it would be irresponsible of us to turn our backs on this critical funding issue.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison: “Title X programs improved the health and lives of more than 55,000 Minnesotans in 2017. Now the Trump administration is illegally trying to gag providers from offering women medically-sound, unbiased, and affordable healthcare, which will impose burdens on everyone in our state, especially in Greater Minnesota. My job is to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity. This rule makes it harder for people, especially women, to do both. That’s why I’m joining this effort to fight it.”

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford: “Patients rely on their doctors to give them honest and accurate health care information, and no one, especially not politicians, should interfere with that. This rule would prevent Nevadan women from receiving health care information from their doctor and put their health at risk. I am proud to join Attorneys General across the county to protect the millions of low-income and under-served families who rely on the Title X family planning program for access to a broad range of health services, and to keep politics out of the doctor’s office.”

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal: “New Jersey is proud to stand with its Title X healthcare providers, the patients they serve, and a broad coalition of other States, in challenging a rule that puts the health of women and low-income individuals at risk to advance an ideological agenda. We will fight to protect our residents’ access to high quality reproductive health care and family planning services.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein: “Title X clinics screen for cancer, prevent unintended pregnancies, and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections. These are critical health care services that change and save lives. This proposed gag rule would prevent women in North Carolina from making the healthcare decisions that allow them to lead happy, healthy lives.”

Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro: “Pennsylvania is joining this suit to stop an unacceptable attempt by the Trump Administration to get between women and their doctors. Women deserve and depend on comprehensive healthcare services and basic information like reproductive choices, preventive care and cancer screenings. I denounced this move by HHS when it was announced two weeks ago, and tomorrow we are taking action to prevent the federal government from jeopardizing the healthcare of millions of Pennsylvania women.”

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha: “Reproductive health care freedom must be preserved, and part of that freedom includes making sure that women are provided with all of their options when it comes to family planning. We cannot create barriers to access women’s healthcare. It is vital that we take a proactive approach on this front.”

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan: “Vermont’s Title X clinics provide critical health services, like cancer screenings and HIV testing. These clinics serve primarily poor people, and the new rule would deprive these people of needed health care.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring: “Virginia women and families deserve access to medically-sound healthcare and family planning services, not a narrow range of ineffective services dictated by ideology. President Trump’s regulations will cripple an important and successful program that served more than 50,000 Virginians in 2017, put women across Virginia at risk, and freeze out trusted providers like Planned Parenthood at a time when we need to be making it easier to access healthcare.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul: “All Wisconsinites should have access to safe, quality health care, including family planning services. But if the new rules for the Title X program aren’t blocked, quality health care will become less accessible. Those changes are unlawful, and they should be set aside.”

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.