Thursday, 21 March, 2019

California sues over US abortion rule; 20 states to follow

California files suit to block Trump administration’s abortion ‘gag rule’ in family planning program 21 States, D.C. To Sue Trump Administration Over Abortion 'Gag Rule'
Celia Hoffman | 06 March, 2019, 14:53

The 21 states are seeking an injunction to prevent the Trump administration's February 22 rule barring Title X funds from supporting programs and organizations that provide abortions or abortion referrals.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Northern California against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the first volley of what is expected to be a barrage of litigation by states, family-planning groups and others challenging restrictions prohibiting clinics that receive federal family-planning money from offering abortions or referring women to abortion services.

Washington, D.C., and 19 states said they would sue separately in or on Tuesday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, both Democrats, on Monday announced another lawsuit with Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The new rule is set to go into effect in May, unless blocked by a court.

The rule, announced by the Health and Human Services Department on February 22, was celebrated by social conservatives eager to see a substantial portion of the $286 million Title X federal family planning program redirected to faith-based groups.

Once again taking aim at President Trump, California on Monday filed its 47th lawsuit against the administration, this time to block a move that would effectively strip millions of federal dollars from reproductive health providers that perform abortions and abortion referrals. In a news statement, OR officials explained, for example, that "it would require health clinics to open another location, OR create a separate entrance for patients, have separate examination rooms, hire separate personnel to work at separate workstations, maintain a separate phone number and website, and have separate electronic medical systems in order to continue to accept Title X funds". Washington state's Democratic attorney general previously announced that state's plan to legally challenge the rule in court.

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Opponents have called it a "gag" rule that compromises medical ethics and endangers the lives of patients because it explicitly bars doctors, nurses or other care personnel from referring a woman for an abortion.

"[The] new regulation protects low-income women who rely on Title X assistance because no funds will be cut from the program", she said, observing that women in need can receive family planning services at federally qualified health centers (FQHC), which outnumber abortion centers 20 to one.

"The Trump-Pence administration has doubled down on its attacks on women's health", California Atty. Gen.

The rule is designed primarily to target Planned Parenthood, the largest provider under the Title X family-planning program.

The rule affects some 4 million mostly low-income people nationwide, Becerra said. OR took in more than $3 million in Title X funding last fiscal year. The law already bans the use of Title X funds to pay for abortions. The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar lawsuit, and Ferguson said the two cases could be consolidated at some point.

Social conservatives hailing the new rule included Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, who praised the policy as "decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood".

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