Michigan Joins 20 Other States to Sue Federal Government for Title X "Gag Rule"

March 5, 2019

LANSING – In collaboration with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and on behalf of the state of Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 20 other states to challenge the constitutionality of the Trump Administration’s new “gag” rule, which negatively impact Title X family planning services.

The national lawsuit, which challenges a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ final rule that would alter the Title X family program, was filed today in US District Court in Eugene, Oregon.  The federal grant program currently provides more than $286 million annually in vital family planning and preventive health services to low-income individuals.  Michigan receives more than $7 million a year in Title X funds.

“Tens of thousands of Michigan residents utilize the vitally important high-quality health care supported by Title X funds,” said Nessel.  “These services – which include breast and cervical screening, well-woman exams, STI screenings and treatment, and many reproductive services including health, education and counseling – are provided at 93 clinic sites in 72 out of 83 counties in our state.

“It would be irresponsible of us to turn our backs on this critical funding issue,” she added.

The purpose of the Title X program is to ensure equitable access to high-quality family planning services, regardless of a person’s economic condition. 

The new DHHS rule – known as the “gag rule” – places unlawful and unethical restrictions on health care professionals and prohibits them in most instances from providing information or referrals for abortion services.

“Title X ensures that every person has access to birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential health care services – no matter where they live and how much money they have,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  “The Trump Administration’s actions undermine this bipartisan-supported federal-state partnership that has improved the health of women and families for decades.”

According to the complaint, the change in the rule would cause a dramatic nationwide reduction of high-quality providers in the Title X program.  Those providers who do remain would be prohibited from providing the same high-quality medical advice and care they have always provided and would be stripped of their ability to provide factual, neutral, nondirective medical counseling and referrals on all pregnancy options.

The national lawsuit is being led by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and New York Attorney General Letitia James.  In addition to Michigan, other states joining the lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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