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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

20 AGs back lawsuits by family planning groups against Trump administration

Maggy Krell, chief counsel of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, speaks during a news conference in Los Angeles Tuesday, May 15, 2018, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra about lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to change rules they say will limit access to family planning services. Becerra and 19 other attorneys general filed legal papers Tuesday supporting lawsuits filed against the president in Washington federal court by groups that promote birth control. (Brian Melley / Associated Press)
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – Twenty attorneys general voiced their support Tuesday for lawsuits challenging Trump administration rule changes they said will reduce access to family planning services.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the president is playing politics with patients by changing rules that would shift federal family planning funds toward organizations that stress abstinence.

The AGs filed a brief in Washington federal court that supports lawsuits by groups that promote birth control.

The lawsuits target proposed rule changes announced in February by the Department of Health and Human Services for about $260 million in family planning grants.

In a funding document, the agency made favorable mention of “natural family planning” that includes the rhythm method and other strategies to avoid pregnancy without using birth control. It also said it would favor abstinence messages for adolescents.

About 4 million low-income Americans receive subsidized services through the Title X family-planning program.

Planned Parenthood groups in Wisconsin, Ohio and Utah, and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association filed the lawsuits saying the rule change violated terms of the Title X statute Congress adopted with bipartisan support in 1970.

“By changing the rules, the Trump administration is threatening basic access to essential health care for women and families throughout the country,” Becerra said. “They’re shrinking the universe of services that a woman or family can access – having nothing to do with what’s related to wise health care choices.”

The supporting brief was also signed by prosecutors in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.