21 states and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits on Monday and Tuesday against the US Department of Health and Human Services over new rules for family planning under Title X.
The California lawsuit was filed on Monday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. A second lawsuit, led by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and New York Attorney General Letitia James, was filed in the US District Court of Oregon on Tuesday. The Oregon lawsuit was also joined by Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The US Department of Health and Human Services announced in February new rules that would limit federal funding for health clinics that provide abortion referrals and services. The rules were officially published in the Federal Register on Monday and will go into effect on May 3.
California argues that the law violates the Affordable Care Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Consolidated Appropriations Act requires that all pregnancy counseling be nondirective. It is also argued that the rule violates the authority under Title X because the rule does not allow “a comprehensive program of family planning services.” The rule is also called arbitrary and capricious for not addressing evidence California gave regarding the impacts the rule will have. It is also alleged that the rule violates the Due Process Clause of the Constitution by denying equal protection through discrimination against women.
The Oregon lawsuit makes similar arguments to California’s complaint. The Oregon lawsuit makes an additional argument claiming the new rule is unconstitutionally vague. Oregon states that the rule is unclear in regards to when abortion referrals are prohibited by failing to define “abortion as a method of family planning.” Oregon also argues that the rule violates the First Amendment of the Constitution by infringing on the free speech of health care providers.