10:33, March 05 270 0 abajournal.com

2019-03-05 10:33:06
21 states announce suits over ban on federal funds for clinics that provide abortion referrals


Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., have announced two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s ban on federal funding to clinics that provide abortion referrals.

California filed its lawsuit in San Francisco on Monday, while the 20 states and Washington, D.C., planned to sue in Eugene, Oregon, on Tuesday, report the Washington Post and the New York Times. Press releases are here and here.

The rule change restricts funds for family planning services that are provided through Title X of the Public Health Act. Before the rule change, the federal money could not be used to perform abortions. Now clinics must physically and financially separate abortion services to receive funding for the family planning side of services.

The new rule also bars family planning clinics that receive Title X money from providing abortion referrals. Those clinics may provide lists of health care providers to women, but they can’t identify which ones perform abortions. Critics have called that restriction a gag rule.

The California suit argues that the rule changes “effectively rewrite the Title X statute, operating well beyond the agency’s regulatory authority, to effectuate a policy principle that relegates women’s health care to second class status.”

The suit says the new restrictions also violate a provision of the Affordable Care Act that bans regulations creating unreasonable barriers to obtaining appropriate medical care.

The new rule will cause high-quality family planning providers to flee the Title X program, according to the California suit. Clinics that provide less comprehensive service may then qualify for the program, including crisis pregnancy centers that discourage abortions, the California suit says.

The California suit alleges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause, which prevents the government from denying equal protection of the laws.

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