The Title X program impacts roughly 4 million people, and the changes by the Trump administration impact how family providers that receive funding through the program can operate and what advice they can give their patients, according to the AMA. The final rule specifically requires financial and physical separation at family planning facilities where abortion services are offered that receive Title X funding. The final rule also includes a “gag rule” that forbids the referral of abortion as a method of family planning.
The AMA filed its lawsuit to block the new rule in the U.S. District Court in the District of Oregon, contending the rule violates patient rights under the Code of Medical Ethics.
“Because of the administration’s overreach and interference in healthcare decision making, physicians will be prohibited from having open, frank conversations with their patients about all their healthcare options. This blatant violation of patients’ rights under the Code of Medical Ethics is untenable,” AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, said in a statement.
AMA is not the only one to jump into a legal battle over the final rule, which was published Feb. 22. Planned Parenthood––which receives an estimated $60 million in federal funding from Title X, according to The Washington Post––as well as 21 state attorneys general have filed lawsuits to challenge the rule. Industry groups are specifically taking aim at the prohibition against referrals for comprehensive reproductive care that includes abortion services.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule is unethical, illegal, and dangerous, which is why Planned Parenthood is suing to protect patients’ rights and access to health care,” Leana Wen, MD, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “Four million people receive care through Title X, our nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, and for many of our patients, we are their only source of care for cancer screenings, birth control, and crucial preventive care.”
The Title X program primarily serves low-income patients––78 percent of Title X patients have incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, according to HHS.