20 states including Virginia aim to block Trump abortion rule

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The Title X program has become a battlefront in the USA fight over reproductive rights, with Democrats rallying to protect abortion rights against President Trump and Republicans who have made gains curtailing access to the procedure in this administration and in state legislatures in recent years.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging its controversial new rule that could pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics, making California the first of many states expected to take legal action.

The AMA highlighted the regulation's provision that bars a clinician from directly referring a pregnant patient for an abortion, which AMA President Barbara McAneny called a "blatant violation of patients' rights" under the code of medical ethics.

Twenty states and Washington, D.C., said they would sue separately Tuesday.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, both Democrats, on Monday announced another lawsuit with Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the 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 lawsuits seek a court injunction to stop the rule from taking effect in 60 days.

"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".

Clinics will also be required to create physical walls separating their abortion services from other family-planning programs.

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California filed its suit on Monday, while other states including OR plan to file on Tuesday.

Administration officials have told abortion opponents that they expected a number of legal challenges to the new rule.

The "gag rule," as opponents are calling it, applies to family planning programs funded by a federal grant program known as Title X. According to Rosenblum's office, Title X funds access to contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, wellness exams, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and other related health services.

Federal funding can't be used for abortions, but the administration argues any money that goes to abortion providers could indirectly support the procedure.

The rule affects some 4 million mostly low-income people nationwide, Becerra said. And last week, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced he would also challenge the rule. "This illegal Title X rule denies patients access to critical healthcare services and prevents doctors from providing comprehensive and accurate information about medical care". OR took in more than $3 million in Title X funding last fiscal year.

"Abortion is neither healthcare nor family planning which is why the Title X program has no business funding it", Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said in a statement. "We'll fight this attack on women's health in court".

Pro-choice activists, politicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood gather for a news conference and demonstration at City Hall against the Trump administrations title X rule change on February 25, 2019 in New York City.