Colorado joins federal lawsuit challenging new Title X restrictions on women’s reproductive healthcare
Mar. 5, 2019 (DENVER, Colo.)—Colorado has joined 21 other states in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a new Title X “Gag Rule” that will significantly restrict access to reproductive health services and information for women and families.
The rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relates to funding for Title X, the only federal grant program that funds family planning programs to help patients access contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, well-woman exams, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and other related health services. Under the new rule, providers in any clinic that receives Title X funding will be barred from referring a patient for an abortion, and in many circumstances even discussing an abortion with a patient. The new rule also mandates a referral for prenatal care for every pregnant patient, regardless of the needs or the wishes of the patient.
The lawsuit filed today in District Court in Eugene, Ore. alleges that the Title X rule, if implemented, would reduce access and erode the quality of reproductive health care that Title X was originally intended to provide care for low-income individuals. The new rule would also interfere with the health care provider and patient relationship by limiting what the provider can say to a patient.
“Title X is a critical source of healthcare funding in Colorado. In 2017, Colorado received $3.8 million in federal funding, which provided a range of services—including general health screenings and a broad range of family planning methods—to more than 55,000 Coloradans throughout the state. These restrictions threaten to undermine healthcare providers’ ability to serve their patients professionally. If these rules go into effect, Colorado will see an increase in teen births, unintended pregnancies, and abortions,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser.
In Colorado, funding from Title X is combined with State general funds and is used to support family planning services and outreach to communities traditionally lacking access to such services. Title X services are estimated to have prevented 9,710 unintended pregnancies in Colorado in 2017. Additionally, according the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the birth rate for young women ages 15 to 19 was reduced by 59 percent between 2009 and 2017. The abortion rate among women ages 15 to 19 fell by 60 percent between 2009 and 2017.
States joining the lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The complaint can be found here.
Lawrence Pacheco, Director of Communications
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