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AG Nessel Joins Amicus Brief Over Family Planning Funding Lawsuit

(The Center Square) – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in an amicus brief seeking to restore federal funding for family planning services.

Led by New York and California, the lawyers filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, supporting the efforts of President Joe Biden’s administration to restore Title X funding to providers that left the program under restrictions enacted in 2019.

The new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Title X rule issued in 2021 would remove funding restrictions on family planning. It would boost Title X funds distribution to more family planning and health services providers.

Title X is a federal grant program that funds family planning and counseling programs to help patients access contraception and screenings for breast and cervical cancer and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.

The brief – filed in the case Ohio v. Becerra – opposes efforts by states to halt the enactment of the new HHS rule. Those plaintiff states appealed a December 2021 decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which rejected their request for a preliminary injunction to halt new rule implementation.

“I have been and will always be committed to ensuring that the women of Michigan receive the healthcare services they need,” Nessel said in a statement. “The U.S. District Court was right to reject the plaintiff states’ request for a preliminary injunction. Any state that opposes the new Title X rule does not have the bests interests of the people of that state in mind. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting the current administration’s efforts to restore funding to family planning providers.”

In December 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction to pause enacting the 2021 Title X rule. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ legal challenges to the new HHS rule, and the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The brief supports the 2021 HHS rule that restores the scope of federal grants under Title X, in part, by eliminating the 2019 rule. The coalition says the 2019 rule imposed “burdensome” requirements, including the physical separation of abortion and non-abortion services at any clinic that provided abortion services.

Under the 2021 rule, Title X funds can fund financially separate clinics that don’t physically separate non-abortion and abortion services.

The brief argues that the Court of Appeals shouldn’t revert to the 2019 law. Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction aims to return to the 2019 rule, which decreased the number of Title X providers.

The 2021 HHS rule would allow providers that left the Title X program to reenter.

Other attorneys general who joined the suit include the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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