AG Jepsen Joins Opposition to Title X Rule that Restricts Access to Women's Reproductive Healthcare
Attorney General George Jepsen today joined a coalition of 13 attorneys general in filing comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opposing the Trump Administration's proposal to limit access to women's healthcare by imposing unconstitutional restrictions to the Title X program.
Title X provides critical preventative and life-saving care, including reproductive healthcare, to four million patients nationally. On May 22, HHS released a proposed rule that would place several harmful restrictions on the Title X program.
"The Trump Administration is playing games with women's healthcare in their quest to eliminate the constitutionally protected right of women to make their own reproductive decisions," said Attorney General Jepsen. "This rule will disproportionately impact low-income women, women of color and women who live in rural areas, and it will mean higher costs for all taxpayers as limited options for preventative and primary care will inevitably burden our public health system."
Specifically, the proposed rule seeks to create barriers to women's healthcare by:
• Prohibiting doctors from discussing comprehensive healthcare options, including abortion, with their patients;
• Effectively forcing healthcare providers to open separate offices to provide abortion and certain other services in order to keep Title X funding for covered services; and
• Undermining the standard of care by allowing Title X providers to refuse to offer medically approved contraceptive methods in favor of less-effective methods, like abstinence-only.
In their comments, the attorneys general argue that the Trump Administration's rule does not take into account costs to women, healthcare providers and the states. The rule's restrictions would likely cause the closure of federally funded family planning clinics and would limit care options for women. The financial costs of care would be shifted from the federal government to the states to the extent states are able to fill the gaps left by the reduction in providers.
The attorneys general further argue that the proposed rule is unconstitutional because it censors speech concerning lawful and medically based medical advice and violates a woman's constitutional right to reproductive choice.
Title X is the only national family planning program that serves low-income women and families and otherwise underserved communities. The program provides patients with basic primary and preventative healthcare services, including wellness exams, cervical and breast cancer screenings, birth control, contraception education, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Title X clinics in Connecticut served more than 43,000 individuals at 17 different sites in 2017. About 85 percent of all those served had incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
In addition to Connecticut, and led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the attorneys general joining today's public comments include Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.
Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy Osborne is assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
Please click here to view these public comments.
Jaclyn M. Severance