Breaking: Michigan joins suit against Trump administration over Title X ‘gag rule’

"Fight for our Families" rally on Dec. 12. 2018 at the Michigan Capitol | Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is one of 21 state attorneys general who will challenge the constitutionality of the President Donald Trump Administration’s new “gag rule” altering the Title X family planning program.

The rule bans Planned Parenthood and other groups from a $286 million federal family planning program, as the Advance reported. The money for the program serving roughly 4 million low-income women likely will be steered into faith-based groups that oppose abortion.

Dana Nessel after a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Feb. 19, 2019 | Ken Coleman

A national lawsuit will be filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore. The lawsuit national is being led by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“Tens of thousands of Michigan residents utilize the vitally important high-quality health care supported by Title X funds,” Nessel said. ”These services — which include breast and cervical screening, well-woman exams, STI screenings and treatment, and many reproductive services including health, education and counseling —are provided at 93 clinic sites in 72 out of 83 counties in our state and it would be irresponsible of us to turn our backs on this critical funding issue.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hit back at the Trump administration over the so-called “gag rule” last month.

“Along with other newly elected governors, I will explore all options to block these changes,” she said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her first State of the State address | Casey Hull

“Title X ensures that every person has access to birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, and other essential health care services — no matter where they live and how much money they have,” Whitmer continued. “The Trump administration’s actions undermine this bipartisan supported federal-state partnership that has improved the health of women and families for decades.

Under the rule, family planning clinics receiving federal funds can no longer refer patients for abortion. They maintain a “clear physical and financial separation” between government-funded services and any organization that provides abortions or abortion referrals, the Washington Post reports. Groups receiving Title X money already were barred using it for abortions.

“What this new rule means is that providers who receive Title X funding will have to decide whether they will refuse the funding or ‘cave’ to the requirements of this new rule,” said Rosenblum. “Neither is a good or fair option for women and families who often have no other access to medical care. I’m proud that Oregon is taking the lead in this important lawsuit. Oregonians have voted time and time again to support women’s reproductive health freedoms.”

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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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