NFPRHA, Cedar River Clinics, and ACLU Challenge Trump Administration’s Harmful Changes to Title X Family Planning Program

New restrictions would prevent millions of low-income people from obtaining contraception and preventive care

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
March 7, 2019 11:15 am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), and Cedar River Clinics, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Washington, today filed suit to challenge the Trump administration’s new rule that threatens to upend the Title X family planning program and disrupt critical health care for more than 4 million people nationwide.

The Trump administration’s new rule directly interferes with conversations between health care professionals and their patients, allowing—and in some cases mandating—that providers withhold critical health information from 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. The Trump administration’s policy forces dedicated, highly qualified healthcare providers to make a Hobson’s choice: stay in the Title X program and force prenatal referrals on patients and withhold referrals for abortion, or put patients at risk of losing access to trusted providers that deliver essential, lifesaving, high-quality care. This will have devastating consequences to low-income individuals who rely on the Title X program for their family planning and sexual health care: nearly two-thirds of Title X patients live below the federal poverty line.

“The Trump administration’s attacks on women and their ability to access health care are relentless and illegal,” said Ruth E. Harlow, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “We are taking legal action today to stop the administration’s attempt to destroy the nation’s only dedicated family planning program. We won’t let ideological agendas disrupt access to medical care for low-income people.”

“In every way, this rule attempts to shred the integrity of an evidence-based program with a nearly 50-year track record of public health success. The Trump administration’s rule not only contradicts medical ethics and health care quality standards, it defies widely shared, fundamental American values on the importance of confidentiality, dignity, and respect,” said Clare Coleman, President & CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. “We’re going to court to defend the nation’s family planning program and uphold the law so that no one suffers the consequences of this harmful rule.”

“While the Trump administration is willing to play politics with people’s lives to pander to a specific ideological base, Cedar River Clinics is committed to protecting reproductive health care and ensuring that patients can continue to receive the high-quality health care they need and have come to expect from us. Helping patients is our primary focus, and we are prepared to fight for our community and communities across the country that rely on Title X,” said Connie Cantrell, Executive Director of Cedar River Clinics.

For nearly five decades, the Title X program has offered patients, especially those with low incomes, high-quality contraceptive services and related preventive care. Title X funds support health centers that provide a range of health services, including breast and cervical cancer detection, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, pregnancy testing and counseling, and contraception. The federal program allows providers to serve millions of individuals and families who would otherwise lack care.

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 diseases.

The lawsuit was filed in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Washington. The Attorney General of Washington filed a separate legal challenge in the same court.

Attorneys on this case include: Harlow, Fiona Kaye, Anjali Dalal, Elizabeth Deutsch, Brigitte Amiri from the ACLU; Emily Chiang from the ACLU of Washington; Joe Shaeffer and Sam Kramer from MacDonald Hoague & Bayless; Nicole M. Argentieri, Jennifer B. Sokoler, Sara Zdeb, and Brandon D. Harper from O’Melveny & Meyers LLP.

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