Attorney General Ken Paxton today joined a multistate coalition brief defending a new Trump Administration rule for the Title X grant program which allows family planning services to cease providing abortion counseling and referral. Recently finalized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Protect Life Rule ensures statutory prohibitions on funding programs that advocate for abortion as a form of “family planning,” and mirrors requirements put in place during the Reagan-era and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan.
“The Protect Life Rule requires clear financial and physical separation between Title X projects and facilities that provide abortions. The rule protects the lives of the unborn and the conscience rights of taxpayers by ensuring that funding is directed to health care and family planning services, rather than the abortion industry,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Our multistate coalition is confident the courts will ultimately uphold the rule change. A procedure intended to end a human life isn’t health care.”
Last May, a letter to HHS from Attorney General Paxton provided impetus for the rule change. In the letter, Attorney General Paxton explained that HHS discriminated against Texas by denying Title X funds based on Texans’ desire to follow their consciences and exclude abortion counseling and referral from family planning services. The proposal expressly referred to the attorney general’s letter when announcing that such provisions cannot be enforced against objecting applicants or grantees.
In another letter to HHS in March of last year, Attorney General Paxton encouraged the agency to implement rules restoring religious freedom and conscience rights for all Americans. The Obama administration denied the conscience rights of Texans when it excluded Texas from Title X funding because of state laws that, like federal laws, respect the sanctity of life among the unborn.
The Protect Life Rule updates the regulations governing the Title X program to ensure compliance with its statutory prohibition on taxpayer funding of programs where abortion is a method of family planning, and no longer requires that health providers give counseling or referrals for abortion. The proposal does not cut any funding for family planning services provided an organization disentangles taxpayer funds from abortion as a method of family planning, as required by Title X law.
Texas is joined in the Ohio-led friend-of-the-court brief by Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota.
View a copy of the brief here.