Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Seeking Supreme Court Review Against Trump-Pence Administration’s Title X Family Planning Rule

Tuesday, October 6, 2020
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SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and New York Attorney General Letitia James, yesterday led a coalition of 21 states and the District of Columbia in filing a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. They join the American Medical Association, the Oregon Medical Association, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and Essential Access Health in seeking review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to uphold the Trump-Pence Administration’s Title X rule, which dismantles the nation’s family planning program. The rule restricts access to critical preventive healthcare and access to birth control and prohibits doctors from providing accurate information to patients on their healthcare options including referrals for abortion. 

“The Trump-Pence Administration has upended the nation’s family planning network that serves low-income women and families across the country,” said California Attorney General Becerra. “As a result, clinics have closed in many parts of the country and patients are left with no provider for critical reproductive and preventive health services. A patient’s medical decisions are between her and her doctor or healthcare provider, not between her and the President or Vice President. Once again, this Administration is playing games with reproductive healthcare, putting politics ahead of patients. This rule interferes with the practice of medicine and reproductive autonomy. A patient should be able to have honest and frank conversations with her provider and get the care she needs, period. Here in California, we will continue to stand up and fight for the millions of women and families who rely on Title X for healthcare services.” 

The Title X family planning program is instrumental in the delivery of preventive and reproductive healthcare to low-income women and families. In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a rule imposing major changes on the Title X program including: 

  • Limiting the information that can be shared with a patient at a Title X clinic;
  • Prohibiting referrals for abortion, even when a patient specifically requests one;
  • Mandating referrals for prenatal care for all pregnant patients, even if this care is not requested; and
  • Requiring physician and financial separation for clinics for Title X funded services from abortion care. 

Before 2019, the Title X program funded a wide array of critical public health services, including family planning counseling, access to FDA-approved contraceptive methods, pelvic exams, and crucial screenings for high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and cervical and breast cancer. The Trump-Pence Administration’s new Title X rule, however, has harmed the Title X program nationwide. 

In 13 states, more than 50 percent of Title X grantees have withdrawn from the program, and several states no longer have any Title X providers. New providers have not filled the gap caused by the withdrawals because these providers don’t provide family planning counseling or birth control. As a result, states have faced increased burdens to meet residents’ needs for essential healthcare.

California alone has experienced a significant loss of Title X providers—going from 366 health centers in 38 counties to 229 health centers in only 18 counties. This leaves several rural counties with no Title X providers. As a result of these withdrawals, 38 percent fewer patients were served in 2019 compared to before the rule went into effect. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Title X family planning network in California was projected to see fewer than 300,000 patients this year.

Yesterday's petition is the latest step in Attorney General Becerra’s efforts to protect the Title X program. In May, he and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford filed a multistate amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, supporting the City of Baltimore in its lawsuit against the Trump-Pence Administration’s rule. On March 4, 2019, he filed a 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 relied on Title X for healthcare services. And on July 30, 2018, the Attorney General led a coalition of 13 attorneys general in filing a comment letter opposing the rule.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the petition are the attorneys general of New York, Oregon, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court is available here.

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