Attorney General Aaron Ford is joining 19 states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump Administration’s new “gag rule” which opponents argue would significantly restrict access to reproductive health services including cancer screening and contraception.
The controversial policy change prohibits health care professionals in most instances from providing information or referrals for abortion services and prevents family planning services funded by the program from being in the same physical location as abortion providers.
The rule also alters funding for the Title X family planning program, a federal grant program that provides more than $286 million annually to low-income people for family planning and preventive health services including access contraception, cancer screenings, exams, and other related health services.
“Patients rely on their doctors to give them honest and accurate health care information, and no one, especially not politicians, should interfere with that,” said Ford. “I am proud to join Attorneys General across the county to protect the millions of low-income and under-served families who rely on the Title X family planning program for access to a broad range of health services, and to keep politics out of the doctor’s office.”
Title X funds are not allowed to be used for abortion services and are closely monitored to ensure that federal funds are used appropriately and that there is adequate separation between Title X and prohibited activities like abortions.
The lawsuit argues that the new rules would be burdensome and lead to “unnecessary restrictions that would reduce access to care, interfere with the patient-provider relationship” leading to “irreparable injury to the States and their residents.”
“This new rule puts the thousands of Nevadans who depend on Title X programs for health care in danger of receiving inaccurate or incomplete information about their health,” added Gov. Steve Sisolak in a statement. “As governor, I am committed to adequately funding women’s health care, and my administration will continue to fight the federal government’s misguided attempts to curtail access to accurate information and options about available health care for Nevada’s women and men.”
Funds for the program are distributed through competitive grants. The 89 grantees in 2017 included states, local public health authorities, and family planning or community health nonprofit entities.
The national lawsuit is being led by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In addition to Nevada the following states have joined Oregon and New York in the lawsuit: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.