Today, Americans United for Life, along with local counsel Stephen C. Whiting, filed a “friend of the court” brief on behalf of AUL in Family Planning Association of Maine v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Maine district court, supporting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) final Title X rule.
Title X was enacted to provide financial support for health care organizations offering family planning services and statutorily prohibits funds from going to abortion. Last year, HHS proposed a rule to increase compliance with Title X’s statutory mandates by requiring physical and financial separation between abortion services and Title X projects. AUL submitted a comment in support of the proposed rule.
The rule was finalized and published in March and is scheduled to go into effect on May 3. So far eight different groups, including Maine Family Planning (MFP), filed legal challenges against the final Title X rule, seeking to keep the rule from going into effect.
AUL’s brief responds specifically to MFP’s novel argument that the Title X rule violates their patients’ right to abortion and is subject to the undue burden test, arguing that the right to abortion does not include a right to Title X funding and that the undue burden standard does not apply to government funding regulations such as the Title X rule.
“Despite the fact that abortion is statutorily excluded from Title X projects and funding, Maine Family Panning somehow thinks that the rule violates their patients’ right to choose abortion. This is absurd,” said Rachel Morrison, AUL Litigation Counsel. “The right to choose an abortion is not implicated, much less infringed upon by the rule. It strains logic to think that abortion providers are entitled to Title X funding when the ‘right to abortion’ does not include a right to government funding.”
The Maine district court will hear oral argument on MFP’s request on April 24, 2019, and the court is expected make a decision by May 3.