Government urges federal judges to dismiss Planned Parenthood lawsuits

Government urges federal judges to dismiss Planned Parenthood lawsuits
© Greg Nash

Attorneys for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urged judges to throw out two lawsuits from Planned Parenthood affiliates over the Trump administration's focus on “abstinence-only until marriage” sexual education.

Reuters reports that HHS asked to toss out the lawsuits this week, arguing that Planned Parenthood lacked standing to sue over the administration's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program because it chose not to apply for the program's grants.

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The lawsuits were filed after the Trump administration made changes in May to the criteria by which organizations were judged upon applying for grants under HHS's long-running program to educate young Americans on the risks of sexual activity.

Planned Parenthood officials did not comment on this week's filings when contacted by Reuters but noted that the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has contributed to the teen birth rate dropping by 41 percent since 2010.

The organization also argued that Trump administration officials may have made the decision in preparation for ending the program altogether. Trump officials denied this, arguing that the rule change simply favored “sexual risk reduction” programs over “sexual risk avoidance."

The Trump administration has battled with Planned Parenthood before, and in May announced a rule change that would ban clinics that receive federal money from referring women for abortions.

In June, Planned Parenthood officials said they were looking at the possibility of filing another court challenge against the Trump administration over a proposal to reshape a federal family planning grant program that it said was meant to target its organization.