Following the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ finalization of sweeping changes to the Title X Family Planning Program, Keker, Van Nest & Peters has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Essential Access Health and Dr. Melissa Marshall, a family medicine doctor practicing at a Title X-funded health center in Yolo County, California. The suit, filed today in federal court, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit implementation of the new rule and to ensure that quality sexual and reproductive healthcare at Title X-funded clinics remains available to the millions of individuals who depend on it.
The State of California has also filed suit to ensure access to healthcare at Title X-funded clinics.
Under Title X, the federal government provides grants to public agencies and private nonprofits to fund family planning services for low-income and uninsured individuals. In many places throughout the country, Title X-funded clinics and health centers are the only source of quality contraceptive, reproductive, and sexual health care for underserved populations. Essential Access administers California’s Title X system and serves more than one million low-income California residents every year—more than 25% of patients served by the Title X program nationwide.
The new rule is purportedly designed to withhold funding from clinics that perform abortions, yet it has been illegal to use Title X funding for abortion services since the program’s establishment in 1970. Furthermore, the new rule reaches beyond the already instated prohibition, erasing the program’s previous rules requiring women with unintended pregnancies be given “nondirective counseling” on all options and banning Title X recipients from making abortion referrals. This imposes conditions that distort the patient-provider relationship, going as far as to dictate the advice that a medical provider may offer a patient. Ultimately, this new rule will drastically limit patient access to family planning and reproductive health care and will have a devastating impact on millions of patients in California and beyond.
Click here for a copy of the complaint.