State attorneys general from 21 states joined together to sue the Trump administration over a new rule that increased restrictions on Title X family planning program funds. The final rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), prohibits using Title X funds to perform, promote, or refer for abortion as a family planning method. The rule also requires clear financial and physical separation for clinics conducting Title X and non-Title X activities. California filed a separate lawsuit on March 4th asking for an injunction to block the rule from going into effect.
According to HHS, Title X is the only federal program solely dedicated to providing family planning and related preventative services giving priority to low-income families. Supporters say the new rule updates Title X regulations to bring them in line with congressional intent not to support abortion with those funds. Opponents of the new Title X rule call it a “gag rule” because it prohibits fund recipients from referring patients for abortion services. Both sides claim that the rule would cut millions of dollars in funding for Planned Parenthood.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar rule in 1991, but the rule never went into effect once Bill Clinton became president.
A final rule, in the context of administrative rulemaking, is a federal administrative regulation that went through the proposed rule and public comment stages of the rulemaking process and is published in the Federal Register with a scheduled effective date. The published final rule marks the last stage in the rulemaking process and includes information about the rationale for the regulation as well as any necessary responses to public comments.