State Watch

NY, California and Washington threaten to sue over Trump rule to restrict abortion referrals

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New York, California and Washington are threatening to sue the Trump administration over new rules it implemented Friday on family planning.

State officials slammed the rules, which would cut off certain federal funds from family planning clinics that either provide abortions or refer patients for abortions, as dangerous for women’s health.

“The Trump Administration just enacted baseless regulations pushing an anti-choice political agenda on families who rely on Title X for access to critical family planning & health services,” New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a series of tweets. “These new rules are dangerous & unnecessary. New York will not stand by as this administration puts New Yorkers’ & millions of Americans at risk. We will take legal action.” 

{mosads}“The Trump-Pence Administration has yet again shown its deliberate disregard for women’s reproductive freedom and the rule of law. If the Administration cared about women’s health, it would hear the thousands of voices opposing a rule that interferes in women’s medical decisions and access to care. We stand ready to take any and all legal action to protect women’s health and rights,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said in a statement.

“We are currently reviewing the final rule and evaluating our options. It is clear the Trump administration has given our state no choice but to explore all possible avenues, including legal options, to ensure all women have access to the family planning and healthcare services they need,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said in a news release.

And Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) vowed to challenge the new rules but did not clarify if that meant he would consider suing the White House.

The new rules specifically target Title X Family Planning grants, which help fund organizations that assist low-income women with their reproductive health. Health clinics must now be “physically and financially” separate from abortion providers to be eligible for the funds. The rules extend to practices that refer women to abortion facilities or promote abortion as a family planning method.

Title X funds cover reproductive health services for about 4 million women every year at several independent clinics, many of which are operated by Planned Parenthood. Though not all Planned Parenthood clinics would be impacted by the rule, some provide abortions or refer patients to practices that do.

“Since day one, the Trump-Pence administration has aggressively targeted the health, rights and bodily autonomy of people of color, people with low incomes and women,” said Emily Stewart, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood. “We’re going to fight this rule through every possible avenue.”

The administration said Friday the rule was necessary to prevent federal funds from supporting abortions and allow faith groups who are opposed to abortion to participate in the Title X Family Planning Program.

“It protects Title X healthcare providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

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