A coalition led by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a petition yesterday asking the United States Supreme Court to review a challenge to a Trump-Pence administration rule that has dismantled the nation’s family planning system. The Title X gag rule has restricted access to health care for millions of women since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a national injunction against it last year. The coalition of 21 states and the District of Columbia joins a petition from the American Medical Association, the Oregon Medical Association, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and Essential Access Health.
“The gag rule is illegal and unethical, and it is destroying a safety net that has provided critical health services to low income women and women of color for 50 years,” said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “In Oregon alone, more than 44,000 women relied on Title X-funded clinics in 2018, but the new rule forced the state to withdraw from the program last year. A federal judge in Oregon issued an order to keep the rule from taking effect, finding that its consequences would be serious and that it was probably unlawful. We firmly believe the Ninth Circuit erred by overturning that decision, and we hope the Supreme Court will agree with us.”
Since 1970, the Title X family planning program has been instrumental in the delivery of preventive and reproductive healthcare to low-income women and families. In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule imposing major changes on the Title X program including:
- Limiting the information that can be shared with a patient at a Title X clinic;
- Prohibiting referrals for abortion, even when a patient specifically requests;
- Mandating referrals for prenatal care for all pregnant women, even if this care is not requested; and
- Requiring physical and financial separation of Title X funded services and abortion care
Before 2019, the Title X program funded a wide array of critical public health services, including family planning counseling, access to FDA-approved contraceptive methods, pelvic exams, and crucial screenings for high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and cervical and breast cancer. The gag rule, however, has harmed the Title X program nationwide.
In 13 states, more than 50 percent of Title X grantees have withdrawn from the program, and several states no longer have any Title X providers. New providers have not filled the gap caused by the withdrawals in those states because these providers don’t provide family planning counseling or contraceptives. As a result, states have faced increased burdens to meet residents’ needs for essential healthcare.
Attorney General Rosenblum is joined in the petition by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Read the petition to the United States Supreme Court.
The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm.