California Sues Over Trump’s Abortion Rule In The First Major Title X Lawsuit

By Monica Busch
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

A new Trump administration rule stands to severely limit which women's health clinics are able to receive Title X funding. On Monday, California sued the Trump administration, asking a judge to prevent the rule from going into effect. Other states are widely expected to file their own legal challenges, as well.

Under the rule, clinics would only be eligible for Title X funding — which covers things like birth control and STD screenings — if they were physically and financially separate from any type of abortion services. In other words, clinics like Planned Parenthood stand to lose out on significant financial resources unless they reshape major parts of their operations.

Cast by opponents as a "domestic gag rule," the move has been viewed as a direct stab at Planned Parenthood, specifically, even though it stands to affect any clinic which provides abortion care and receives Title X funding.

Some of the most vulnerable populations receive care under Title X funding, which has been in existence since 1970. Largely intended to help provide care to those who are low-income or uninsured, the program currently serves some 4 million people. And an estimated 40 percent of Title X recipients receive their care from Planned Parenthood.

High-profile California officials were out in full force on Monday, many condoning the state's lawsuit against the Title X rule. They characterized the rule as both dangerous and irresponsible.

“The Trump-Pence Administration has doubled down on its attacks on women’s health,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a press release. “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.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom echoed Becerra's remarks, noting that Title X funding is used to fund preventative medical screenings.

“Playing politics with that care is dangerous and grossly irresponsible," Newsom said in a statement. "Our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters deserve better. We’ll fight this attack on women’s health in court."

Reproductive rights advocates have vociferously opposed the rule change since reports indicated it was in the works nearly a year ago. The Department of Health and Human Services released the final version of the rule on Feb. 22. Opponents swiftly spoke out.

“Imagine if the Trump administration prevented doctors from talking to our patients with diabetes about insulin," the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dr. Leana Wen, said in a statement after the rule change language was formally released last week. "It would never happen. Reproductive health care should be no different. Reproductive health care is health care and health care is a basic human right."

California will not be the only state to challenge the Trump administration's new rule. On Tuesday, a coalition of 20 states is slated to file a separate lawsuit against the change, according to The Washington Post. As of Monday afternoon, it was not clear whether or not a judge would approve California's request for an injunction.