The American Medical Association and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Tuesday to block changes to a federal family planning program.
The changes to the Title X family planning program could strip Planned Parenthood of millions of federal funds, and limit what providers could say to their patients about abortion.
“Because of the administration’s overreach and interference in health care decision making, physicians will be prohibited from having open, frank conversations with their patients about all their healthcare options. This blatant violation of patients’ rights under the Code of Medical Ethics is untenable,” said AMA President Barbara McAneny.
Title X funds are awarded to clinics providing reproductive health services to low-income women across the country, but changes to the program recently rolled out by the administration would ban abortion referrals.
The changes would also make it optional for clinics to tell women about abortion as an option.
Such limits on what doctors working at Title X clinics can say has been characterized by opponents as a "gag rule" that interfere in the patient-physician relationship.
“The new rule imposes a government gag rule on what information physicians can provide to their patients," McAneny said.
The changes would also require that clinics receiving Title X funds be financially and physically separate from abortion providers, even though those funds can't be used for abortion.
Anti-abortion groups have painted this as a way to redirect millions of dollars away from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
Twenty-two states are also suing the administration to block the rule.
The lawsuit argues that the rule violates federal law that says Title X services and counseling be non-directive.
By not referring patients for abortions, “they direct patients toward those nonabortion services and away from abortion,” the complain says.
The rule also violates a federal law that bans “unreasonable barriers” to medical care, the complaint argues, because it would force some providers to leave the program or limit services.
“These new restrictions include a range of cost-prohibitive and medically unnecessary changes,” said Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood.
“Their only purpose is to restrict patients’ access to health care.”
The Trump administration argues the financial and physical separation between Title X services and abortion to prevent federal funds from indirectly supporting the procedure.