Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit Challenging Trump-Pence Administration’s Title X Family Planning Rule

Monday, March 4, 2019
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

California has the largest Title X program in the country, serving more than one million of the four million Title X patients nationwide

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a lawsuit against the Trump-Pence Administration’s new Title X rule. The new rule restricts access to critical preventive healthcare and access to birth control and prohibits doctors from providing accurate information for patients and referrals for abortion. The lawsuit seeks to protect Californians, clinics, and providers who will be harmed by the new rule’s dramatic alterations to the Title X program, the only federal program dedicated solely to family planning. 

“The Trump-Pence Administration has doubled down on its attacks on women’s health,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “This illegal Title X rule denies patients access to critical healthcare services and prevents doctors from providing comprehensive and accurate information about medical care. The Trump-Pence Administration’s sabotage of Title X services that millions of women across our nation rely on is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous to women’s health. President Trump treats women and their care as if this were 1920, not 2019.”

“The Trump Administration’s gag rule is an attack on over one million low-income Californians who rely on life-saving screenings and care from providers they trust,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Playing politics with that care is dangerous and grossly irresponsible. Our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters deserve better. We’ll fight this attack on women’s health in court.”

“Women need and deserve not only unfettered access to health care, but also unfettered access to information,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins. “The decision to bar family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion services creates an unnecessary barrier on patients’ ability to make decisions that are best suited for them and their families.”

"As the Chair of the Democratic Legislative Women's Caucus, I am pleased to stand with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Becerra, legislative colleagues, providers and advocates to show our continued strong support for comprehensive reproductive health care in California,” said Senator Connie Leyva. “We stand together in opposition to recent efforts to cut critical Title X funding from organizations that provide vital services to Californians. I will continue to fight today, tomorrow and as long as it takes until we win for California women and families."

“The regulations overstep the administration’s authority, and undermine Title X’s mandate from Congress to make comprehensive family planning services available for all,” said Julie Rabinovitz, President and CEO of Essential Access Health, the Title X grantee for California. “As the leader of the largest Title X system in the nation –  serving over 25 percent of Title X patients nationwide – we have an obligation to ensure that these harmful, unlawful, and unconstitutional regulations never see the light of day.”

“Reproductive healthcare is essential healthcare, and this gag rule targets the patients who need help the most,” said Crystal Strait, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “Attorney General Becerra’s action to file this lawsuit is a powerful step toward protecting patients and providers. Despite this new rule, Planned Parenthood’s doors are open. We will not back down from delivering quality, affordable healthcare.”

In today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra argues that the Trump-Pence Administration’s new rule is unlawful and harmful. Specifically, the rule will interfere with the practice of medicine and result in many providers going out of business due to financial strain. The rule:

  • Prevents doctors from giving patients unbiased counseling about their reproductive health choices;
  • Precludes doctors from fully informing patients as to their medical options, including abortion, or providing them with referral for abortion;
  • Forces Title X providers to forgo federal Title X funding if they decide to provide full and accurate information to patients.
  • Requires family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood and community health centers to have physical and financial separation from abortion providers or clinics that provide referrals for abortion.

On May 22, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a dubious proposed rule that would place several harmful restrictions on the Title X program. California is home to the largest Title X program in the nation. The program funds healthcare providers throughout the State to support preventive care, including critical reproductive healthcare. Attorney General Becerra announced his opposition shortly after the proposed rule became public. On July 18, 2018, Attorney General Becerra requested that the Office of Management and Budget reopen its review of the rule given the insufficient and controversial reasoning offered by the Administration for its proposed changes. On July 30, 2018, he led a coalition of 13 attorneys general in filing a comment letter opposing the Trump-Pence Administration’s proposal. Attorney General Becerra also filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on August 28, 2018, seeking documentation about the formulation of the proposal. Today he filed this lawsuit challenging the final rule in the Northern District Court of California, claiming the proposed restrictions to Title X disregard the rule of law and harm California’s healthcare providers and over one million women in our state who rely on Title X for healthcare services.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

What others are saying:

“Title X funds are already banned from being used to pay for abortion services. Now President Trump is telling doctors at Title X clinics they must withhold information from women about their options for safe, legal healthcare. This gag rule is a disgraceful assault on women's rights and ability to get the care they need. I will continue to fight against it,” said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.

“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and allies in solidarity on behalf of over one million low-income families, people of color, and women throughout California that rely on the comprehensive and affordable health care Title X funding has provided for decades. Title X funding goes to facilities that offer family planning services—facilities that also offer services including birth control, STI testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and general medical care that is otherwise inaccessibly cost-prohibitive for so many Californians. My colleagues and I are calling on the Federal Administration and Congress to rescind the new and unconscionable Title X regulations that will impede access to quality and time-sensitive care for the most vulnerable individuals throughout our state,” said Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath.

“The federal administration’s proposed Title X Gag Rule is both regressive and dangerous. It unfairly targets health clinics like Planned Parenthood, which provide critical, life-saving measures for everyone, but especially low-income communities and communities of color,” said Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo. “I know the benefits and value Planned Parenthood has in my community, servicing women and families and ensuring mammograms, cervix exams, prenatal care and general unbiased comprehensive reproductive healthcare is available. For the health and well-being of women, mothers and families, this is a fight worth having.

“The latest attack by the Trump Administration on Title X funding is another example of their dangerous policies that put politics over people. Cutting the funding from healthcare clinics that provide essential birth control services, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and general wellness exams will bring immediate and disproportionate harm to millions of women,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman.

"The Trump Administration is playing politics with women’s lives. This is a cynical attack on women’s health, and particularly on low-income women. In California, we will always fight for women’s health and will always fight back any time women are under attack,” said Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris.

“The Title X gag rule threatens the health and safety of millions of low-income women, many of whom are my constituents. I join with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Becerra and my colleagues in the Legislative Women’s Caucus to condemn this cynical policy that is a direct attack on women across this country,” said Assemblymember Eloise Reyes.

“As someone who has spoken out on the Assembly floor about my own abortion, I won't be gagged, and neither should the doctors, nurses and counselors who we trust to protect women's health and reproductive freedom,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks.  

“The Trump Administration’s proposed changes to Title X are shameful and dangerous. California will not let the Trump Administration place politics over women’s health and reproductive rights. We’ll see you in court,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.

 “Undermining the critical healthcare provided with Title X resources is a direct attack on low-income women, who work tirelessly every day to keep our communities strong and our society thriving and who deserve the same lifesaving prevention and treatment services as everyone else,” said Senator Maria Elena Durazo.

# # #