AG Ferguson sues Trump over abortion regulations

Desiree Burns
March 1, 2019

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, thanked President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar for guaranteeing Title X "is truly about funding family planning, not abortion". "We have not lost a case yet".

"It's really just forth more barriers for women and again shaming abortion providers and shaming women for something that really has nothing to do with medical care", she said. Religious conservatives and abortion opponents have long complained that Title X has been used to indirectly subsidize abortion providers.

Missouri requires that physicians at clinics providing abortion services have admitting privileges at a hospital, but Planned Parenthood sought an exemption from the rule because they were denied at a nearby hospital.

Planned Parenthood affiliates serve about 40 percent of the program's 4 million patients.

Specifically, Trump's rules would forbid family planning providers in nearly all cases from referring pregnant patients for abortion. "Nondirective" counseling has meant that providers can neither encourage nor deter women from any specific action.

Ferguson's suit says the rule will force many providers out of the program and prevent thousands of mostly poor women in Washington from receiving other vital health care services. The administration is also prohibiting the clinics from being housed in the same locations as abortion providers.

Planned Parenthood has not specifically announced that it will sue, but Dr. Leana Wen, the organization's president, was clear last week in a call with reporters that "Planned Parenthood can not participate in a program that would force our providers to compromise their ethics".

The rule is expected to be submitted to the Federal Register in the coming weeks, and will take effect 60 days later.

He scheduled a news conference Monday to announce the lawsuit.

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The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association said it would sue separately.

Several other state officials have said that they will sue, including officials in New York, Oregon and California.

The couple, Bianca Coons and Cristobal Ruiz, filed suit in a New Mexico district court last week, and said they feared they could not afford to raise an additional child because they were living in "extreme poverty" at the time of the botched abortion. "This gag rule is unethical and unconscionable".

"We do get audited every year to show that there's no use of federal money in abortion services, so their argument is completely invalid", she said.

For example, the letter said, HHS "declined to deem the Title X rule economically significant - completely disregarding the considerable health-related costs the rule would impose - and failed to conduct a comprehensive regulatory impact analysis".

But Washington Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Sprung argued the legal landscape is different now from what it was in 1988 when the Supreme Court of the United States sided with the government.

"Patients should be able to make well-informed decisions based on complete, unbiased information about their health care options", Ferguson said in a statement. Tong's office could not say if there were other state health centers that receive Title X money.

The Trump administration intends to limit the Title X program that provides birth control and other reproductive health services.

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