California first of 22 states to sue Trump over changes to family planning program

California first of 22 states to sue Trump over changes to family planning program
© Greg Nash

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraHispanic leaders coalesce in support of Lujan Grisham as HHS secretary Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security MORE (D) filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the Trump administration's new policy that could strip millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. 


California became the first state to sue over the policy, arguing that the rule would interfere with the practice of medicine and result in many providers going out of business. 

“The Trump-Pence Administration has doubled down on its attacks on women’s health,” Becerra said in a statement. 

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) separately announced Monday that she would lead 20 states and the District of Columbia in filing a national lawsuit against the rule on Tuesday.  

The administration rolled out changes late last month to the Title X family planning grant program that requires clinics receiving Title X funds be physically and financially separate from abortion providers.

This could disqualify many of Planned Parenthood’s 600 centers across the country, which receive about a quarter of Title X funds annually to provide reproductive health and preventive services to low-income women.

Federal funding can't be used for abortions, but the administration argues any money that goes to abortion providers could indirectly support the procedure. 

Opponents call it a "gag rule" because it would ban clinics from referring women for abortions and eliminates a requirement that women be told about abortion as an option.

Rosenblum said the rule would force providers who receive funding to decide whether they will refuse it or "cave" to the new requirements. 

Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen said last month the organization wouldn't be able to participate in the program under the new rules, arguing that it would force them to "compromise our ethics." 

"Neither is a good or fair option for women and families who often have no other access to medical care," Rosenblum said. 

Joining Oregon in the lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Most of the changes take effect this summer, but the physical separation requirements take effect March 4, 2020.

Supporters of the rule note that a similar version was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991.

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE and Secretary Azar acted on the will of the American people by disentangling taxpayers from the big abortion industry," said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

"Similar regulations have already been upheld by the Supreme Court and we are confident the Trump administration will prevail.”

But Becerra argues in this lawsuit that the Trump administration's rule violates a provision of the Affordable Care Act, passed more than a dozen years later, that bans regulations that create  “unreasonable barriers" to medical care.