Attorney General Tong joins coalition fighting to protect family planning funding
23 Attorney General’s Group Case File in Support of Biden-Harris Administration’s Rule Restoring Access to Title X Funding
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong has filed a lawsuit to protect access to reproductive health care and restore federal funding for family planning services. The coalition of 23 attorneys general from across the country, led by New York and California, filed an amicus judicial brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, supporting the administration’s efforts Biden-Harris to reverse the restrictive Trump-era gag rule and restore Title X funding to providers forced out of the Title X program under Trump-era restrictions. The new Title X rule, issued in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), removes harmful Trump administration restrictions on family planning funding and ensures the distribution of Title X funds to more family planning and health services. care providers who provide care to millions of low-income or uninsured people and others.
The Title X program funds family planning counseling and access to various contraceptive methods, as well as critical screenings for high blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, as well as cervical cancer uterus and breast.
The brief – filed in Ohio v. Becerra – opposes continued efforts by a group of state plaintiffs to stop implementation of the new HHS rule. These plaintiff states are appealing a December 2021 decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which denied their request for a preliminary injunction to prevent further enforcement of the new rule.
Connecticut Title X providers, including Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and Cornell Scott Hill Health Center, are both currently receiving funding.
“Title X funding has enabled tens of thousands of Connecticut patients to receive safe and affordable family planning and preventive health care. We cannot allow this life-saving care to be blocked by partisan politics. The gag rule was an illegal and invasive intrusion into the private relationships between patients and healthcare providers, and we join the Biden-Harris administration in the fight to preserve access to care,” said Attorney General Tong.
In December 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denied plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to stay enforcement of the 2021 Title X rule. The court dismissed legal challenges plaintiffs against the new HHS rule and the plaintiffs’ argument that the 2021 rule would cause irreparable harm. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The brief establishes the coalition’s continued support for the 2021 HHS rule that restores the scope of federal Title X grants, in part, by eliminating the harmful provisions of the Trump administration’s 2019 rule – also known under the name “gag rule”. The 2019 rule 1) imposed onerous requirements for physical separation between all abortion and non-abortion services at any clinic that provided abortion services and 2) prohibited physicians from providing referrals to abortion providers, even at the direct request of the patient. In contrast, under the new 2021 HHS rule, Title X funds can, once again, go to clinics that financially separate, but do not physically separate, non-abortion and abortion services, and who provide referrals to abortion providers at the request of a patient.
The brief argues that the Court of Appeals should deny the Plaintiff States’ request to vacate the District Court’s order and direct entry of a preliminary injunction terminating the continued operation of Rule 2021 of the HHS. Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction would put patients and providers at risk by reverting to the 2019 Trump administration rule, which resulted in a dramatic loss of Title X providers and a substantial decrease in patient visits and services. Title X health care provided. Underserved communities have been particularly affected by the loss of essential care, especially low-income people, minorities, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, minors and people living in rural areas.
The HHS 2021 rule allows those providers previously forced out of the Title X program to now re-enter the program. The 2021 rule also improves client outcomes by providing better access to a wider range of health care services and promotes health equity by emphasizing efforts to reach underserved communities.
Joining Attorney General Tong in filing this brief led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Rob Bonta are the attorneys general of Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, from Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
Assistant Attorney General Alma Nunley and Assistant Deputy Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne, head of the Special Litigation Section, assisted the Attorney General in the case.