The Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association have filed a lawsuit to block a new federal rule that would prohibit clinics participating in a program for low-income women from referring them for abortions.
The groups argued in a filing in U.S. District Court in Oregon on Tuesday that the requirement would violate patients’ rights, force doctors to withhold information and harm the 4 million patients who rely on the Title X program for their health care.
“Because of the administration’s overreach and interference in health-care decision-making, physicians will be prohibited from having open, frank conversations with their patients about all their health care options,” Barbara L. McAneny, the AMA’s president, said in a statement.
Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s president, called the rule “unethical, illegal and dangerous.”
The lawsuit comes one day after a coalition of 21 state attorneys general and California — which serves a quarter of all the women who get services in the program — announced suits on similar grounds.
The Department of Health and Human Services has said the long-awaited rule, which was officially published in the Federal Register on Monday, is necessary to prevent “co-mingling” of funds that are used for abortion and those that are used for other types of reproductive care such as cancer screenings, birth control and preventive care. It requires, among other things, that clinics physically and financially separate their abortion operations from their Title X services.
The change has been celebrated by religious groups and others that oppose abortion. Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said in a statement that the rule makes the exclusion of elective abortions from the Title X grant program “clearer for everyone involved” and reflects “the commitment of the majority of Americans not to have their hard-earned tax dollars subsidize Planned Parenthood and other members of the abortion industry.”
Planned Parenthood and other providers have said creating such a separation would result in abortion providers being shut out of the program.
It “blesses biased and incomplete pregnancy counseling where the interests of the patient are no longer paramount,” the lawsuit states.