The ACLU and ACLU of Washington filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) and Cedar River Clinics in Washington state challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to fundamentally alter the Title X family planning program, which provides care to 4 million low-income people each year.
The new regulations, if allowed to take effect, would mean that many of these people would be unable to get the care they need from health care providers they trust, which will result in higher rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
The Trump administration’s policy mandates that providers withhold critical health information, including referrals for abortion care, from their patients. The regulations force dedicated, qualified health care providers to choose between staying in the Title X program, force prenatal referrals on patients and withhold referrals for abortion or putting patients at risk of losing access to trusted providers that deliver essential, lifesaving, quality care.
Plaintiffs argued the Trump administration’s new rule directly interferes with conversations between health care professionals and their patients. The changes will result in fewer people getting access to affordable and effective contraceptive methods, and will open the door for under-qualified providers, some of whom oppose contraception, to participate in the program.
On April 25, 2019, the federal District Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for a Preliminary Injunction, blocking the Trump Administration’s new rule from going into effect nationwide on May 3, 2019. The court found that plaintiffs presented substantial evidence of harm, demonstrating the new rule would seriously disrupt or destroy the existing network of Title X providers in Washington State and nationwide; harm patients’ health who rely on Title X providers; and drive many health care professionals from the Title X program.
For nearly five decades, the Title X program has made high quality contraceptive services and related preventive care accessible to low-income people. Title X funds support health centers that provide a range of preventive health services, including breast and cervical cancer detection, screening for sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, and contraception. This federal program allows providers to serve 4 million low-income, uninsured, and underinsured people and families who would otherwise lack care. In 2015, services provided by health centers that received Title X funding helped women avert 822,300 unintended pregnancies. Without the services provided by Title X-funded health centers, the U.S. unintended pregnancy and abortion rate would have been 31 percent higher for adults.
NFPRHA is a national, nonprofit membership organization established to ensure access to voluntary, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive family planning and sexual health services, and to ensure reproductive freedom for all. NFPRHA’s Title X grantee members provide high-quality family planning and other preventive health services to over 90 percent of all patients served in Title X-funded health centers.
Cedar River Clinics is an independent abortion provider in Washington state with clinics in Renton, Seattle, and Tacoma.