California sues over US abortion rule; 20 states to follow

Stephen Lam  Getty Images North America

Stephen Lam Getty Images North America

Abortion rights activists and other backers of Planned Parenthood at a demonstration in NY last month against the Trump administration's Title X rule change.

Rolled out last month, the new rule stands to disqualify Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers from receiving federal money.

OR is among 21 Democratic-led states announcing they will challenge the Trump administration's effort to set up obstacles for women seeking abortions, including barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

It also requires family planning clinics receiving federal funds to be in a separate location and maintain separate finances from clinics that provide abortions. Trump administration officials have told abortion opponents that they expected a number of legal challenges to the new family planning rule, which also prohibits federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same place as abortion providers. If that pregnancy test was paid for by Title X funds, the doctor isn't allowed to refer her patient to an abortion provider, or give her any information about how to access a safe abortion.

A multistate suit is expected to be filed on Tuesday in OR, and the state of California filed its own separate court challenge against the federal government in San Francisco on Monday. But those regulations, introduced under President Ronald Reagan and tied up in legal challenges, were in effect only several weeks before the arrival of the Bill Clinton administration, which promptly eliminated them.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is heading up the multistate coalition, saying in a statement, "Everyone deserves the ability to make their own decision about their health care".

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OR will lead the fight against a new Trump administration policy that could make it harder for low-income people to access safe and affordable abortions.

"The Trump administration's gag rule is an attack on over 1 million low-income Californians who rely on life-saving screenings and care from providers they trust", California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

"What this new rule means is that providers in OR who receive Title X funding will have to decide whether they will refuse the funding OR "cave" to the requirements of this new rule", Rosenblum said.

Oregon's Title X clinics served 37,012 patients in 2017, according to Rosenblum's office, and in 2018 OR received over $3 million in Title X funds. "It is appalling that the federal government wants to rob individuals of the right to complete medical information and full access to the critical health care services they rely on".

Attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin are also joining Oregon's lawsuit.

Opponents have called it a "gag" rule that compromises medical ethics and endangers the lives of patients because it explicitly bars doctors, nurses or other care personnel from referring a woman for an abortion.

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