NFPRHA & ACLU Challenge Trump Administration’s Changes to Title X Family Planning Program

Government efforts to fund groups that promote abstinence would undermine access to birth control and preventive care for millions of low-income people

May 2, 2018 9:45 am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. —The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, today filed suit to challenge the Trump administration’s plans to undercut the Title X family planning program, which provides care to four million low-income people each year.

The changes the administration seeks to make would undermine access to high-quality preventive health services for low-income people by diverting funds from family planning providers that deliver essential clinical care, instead prioritizing non-health care entities or inexperienced providers that emphasize abstinence only until marriage. These changes were announced when the administration released the criteria under which the it will make grants to entities that provide family planning services. That announcement omitted contraception and all references of clinical standards that have governed the Title X program until now.

“It’s hard to believe that a federal program that is dedicated to family planning does not mention the words ‘contraception’ or ‘prevention’ even once in a 60-page funding announcement,” said Clare Coleman, President and CEO of NFPRHA. “The Title X family planning program was created in response to President Richard Nixon’s proclamation that ‘no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.’ This administration has set aside the program’s core mission in favor of endorsing ‘no sex outside of marriage.’ NFPRHA cannot stand by while the Trump administration advances plans that would damage women’s health and the public health of our nation.”

For nearly five decades, the Title X family planning program has been providing patients, particularly low-income women and men, high-quality contraceptive services and related preventive care. Funds support health centers that provide a range of high-quality preventive health services, including breast and cervical cancer detection, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, and contraception. The federal program allows providers to serve four million low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals and families annually who would otherwise lack care.

“Yet again, the Trump administration is putting ideology ahead of the health and well-being of the American people,” said Ruth Harlow, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This time, they’re undermining a decades-old public health program in order to spread their ideologically driven vision of how people should live their lives. They can’t ignore the rules as they make sweeping changes to a program started by Congress nearly 50 years ago to make critical health care accessible. Not on our watch.”

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 rate would have been 31 percent higher. The Title X program was enacted in 1970 with broad bi-partisan support for the purpose of ensuring that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

“There is broad national consensus about the importance of access to birth control,” continued Coleman. “We’ve seen dramatic examples of what happens when states like Texas and Indiana tamper with family planning funds: substantial numbers of people are deprived of health care they want, resulting in significantly higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy. We’ve gone to court to ensure that this doesn’t happen on a national scale.”

The lawsuit was filed in the federal district court for the District of Columbia. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, and Planned Parenthood Association of Utah have filed a separate legal challenge to the funding announcement asking for similar relief.

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