The US Department of Health & Human Services published in the Federal Register a final rule making changes to the federal regulations governing the Title X national family planning program. The final rules will dramatically change the existing Title X family planning program nationally and in AZ. The changes will include:
Diminishing Title X’s ability to offer confidential, affordable, high-quality family planning care to people struggling financially or who are otherwise vulnerable and in need of care;
Eliminating Title X’s long-standing legal and ethical requirement for non-directive pregnancy options counseling; and
Requires a “bright line” of physical and financial separation between the provision of family planning and abortion services.
Numerous provider groups, state attorneys general and non-profit organizations are suing HHS seeking an injunction to stop the rule from taking effect while the courts decide the legality of the rule.
The American Medical Association along with Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit in Oregon. Essential Access Health (the California Title X grantee) filed a lawsuit and the California AG filed a separate lawsuit to challenge the rule yesterday.
There are now 23 State Attorney Generals that have announced plans to fight the final Title X rule, along with several nonprofits (AZ is not on the list). Others opposing the rule include health care providers of all stripes, public health associations including APHA, legal and ethical experts, reproductive justice advocates, policymakers and many others. A great reference to this activity is the story from the Washington Post, published before the last two states joined.
The Judicial branch of government will likely be the place that determines whether the new proposed final rules making these changes to Title X will actually go into effect.