Federal News: Current Events from Around the United States
By Vernita @ Planned Parenthood Action Fund | April 14, 2023, 6 a.m.
Our vision at Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest is to advance sexual and reproductive health and justice through non-partisan political action, advocacy, and education. We are proud to fight to protect reproductive freedom, LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of all people alongside each and every one of you. Read on for details on the political and legislative landscape on issues that matter most, at the intersection of access and advocacy:
Lawsuit Seeking to Block Mifepristone FDA Approval*
On Friday, April 7, 2023 a federal judge in Texas suspended the U.S. Food Drug Administration’s two-decade old approval of mifepristone – declaring one of two medications used in the most common medication abortion regimen in the United States unlawful, in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al. This ruling does not go into effect immediately, but has the potential to disrupt access to basic sexual and reproductive health care, and to disproportionately impact communities which already face barriers to care. The decision on this case was stayed until Friday, April 14 to allow the federal government to appeal, which they did. There is also a conflicting case coming down from Washington state which could have additional implications that we are also tracking.
Late Wednesday, April 12, a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals panel largely denied the Biden administration’s request to issue a stay in the Texas ruling. It’s infuriating that yet another court would choose to jeopardize the health and futures of the people who rely on mifepristone for abortion care, and rule in line with a baseless case riddled with misinformation, stigma, and anti-choice rhetoric. The FDA’s approval of mifepristone is still in grave danger, but the courts’ orders have not yet taken effect, leaving abortion access intact for now. This means that at this time, mifepristone is still available, and medication abortion remains safe and legal in California.. The Biden administration is seeking emergency relief from the U.S. Supreme Court and has asked them to intervene on this matter.
Unfortunately, attacks on health care and on people’s autonomy are not new, but rather part of a consistent, ongoing harmful effort to restrict access to critical care. Everyone should be able to make decisions about their own reproductive lives and futures, bodies and health care – including choosing the method of abortion that works best for their circumstances.
At Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, we staunchly believe in building a world where access to health care doesn’t depend on who you are or where you live, and where everyone has the opportunity to choose their own path to a healthy and meaningful life.
*This is the latest update as of the morning of Friday, April 14th. We’re now waiting for additional updates on this case as it moves through the courts and anticipate it could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. We will continue to provide information on our social platforms. Be sure to follow us @pppswaction.
Here’s how you can help: Planned Parenthood Federation of America is currently seeking storyteller submissions. If you have a medication abortion story you’d like to share, please email [email protected].
U.S. Department of Justice Appeals Federal Court Decision to Mandate Parental Consent for Youth to Obtain Birth Control
In February, the U.S. Department of Justice appealed the ruling in Deanda v. Becerra, which held that it violates Texas state law and the U.S. Constitution for minors to get their birth control through the Title X program without parental consent. The ruling departed from the decades-old precedent of allowing young people to confidentially get the basic health care they need through the Title X family planning program – the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing affordable birth control, cancer screenings, and other sexual and reproductive health care to people with low incomes.
"Young patients in need of confidential family planning and sexual health services should never be denied care simply to further an ideological agenda,” said Clare Coleman, President & CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA). “Forced parental notification and involvement undercuts the integrity of the Title X program and creates barriers to care and decision-making. We fully support action by the Biden administration and the Department of Justice today to fight back against an egregious district court decision to eviscerate longstanding Title X program protections that ensure young people can access the care they need from providers they trust.”
“It is shameful how anti-abortion activists will stop at nothing to take away access to sexual and reproductive health care,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It was never just about abortion — they’re coming for birth control, gender affirming care, and the full suite of sexual and reproductive health care. Young people deserve access to the health care they need to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures. And let’s not forget that these attacks disproportionately hurt Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, people with low incomes, and people living in rural communities. We are fortunate that the U.S. Justice Department and the Biden administration are dedicated to fighting back. We are grateful for this appeal and look forward to our ongoing work with them to protect access to health care.”
Read more about active litigation on sexual and reproductive health care here.
In January, the state of Texas and an anonymous plaintiff sued the three Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates and Planned Parenthood Federation of America for more than $1.7 billion, alleging that the affiliates defrauded the state's Medicaid system by getting reimbursed for birth control and other basic health care services that the affiliates provided. On February 23, a stay was issued in the United States ex rel. Doe v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the lawsuit falsely alleged that the affiliates defrauded the state's Medicaid system by getting reimbursed for birth control and other basic health care services. The stay was granted because the Supreme Court is hearing two other False Claims Act-related cases which could impact the Texas case and will rule in those cases by June. After the Supreme Court rules, the case will again move.
We continue to wait for a decision on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction in the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration case.
We adamantly stand with our colleagues at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and the people of Texas, who deserve access to compassionate care, including abortion care, without shame, stigma, or politically-motivated barriers.
Texas District Court Strikes Down Parts of ACA Preventive Services Provision:
On March 30th, Judge Reed O’Connor – a federal judge in Texas notorious for ruling against the ACA – declared parts of the ACA’s preventive services provision unlawful. For over ten years, the ACA has required most private health insurance plans and Medicaid expansion programs to cover a range of recommended, life-saving preventive services – including cancer screenings, HIV prevention medication, mental health screenings, and screenings for pregnant people.
Though the ruling has since been appealed by the administration, this is yet another example in which advocates opposed to health care access have tried to use the federal courts – especially in Texas – in order to limit people’s access to health care and undermine their rights.
It is not expected that patients will have an immediate disruption in coverage. Insurers are required to provide advance notice before making coverage changes and most insurers will likely wait until the next plan year, as well as the outcome of any appeal, if they make any changes to coverage.
This ruling is harmful – preventative health care covered by insurance is essential and helps people live healthier, longer lives. Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest will never stop fighting for all people to get the care they deserve – no matter what.
Fighting for Trans Rights and Gender-Affirming Care – No Matter What
More than 80 bills seeking to restrict access to gender-affirming care, targeting trans youth in particular, have been introduced by Republican state lawmakers around the country through February 9, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.
According to a map compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, over 20% of America’s youth have lost access to gender-affirming care across the Nation. In Mississippi, transgender youth can no longer receive gender-affirming care, and in Florida, minors have been barred from even beginning gender-affirming treatment. These restrictions, as well as the discrimination, stigma, shame and misinformation used to enforce them, are dangerous and wrong.
We know that transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, experience more barriers to accessing quality health care due to systemic barriers and discrimination. We are proud to provide inclusive, compassionate care for transgender and non-binary people through our Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy program.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest denounces these attacks; we are more committed than ever to give every person the opportunities they deserve to choose their own path to a healthy and meaningful life. We embrace the responsibility to create an environment of belonging and respect for the patients and communities we serve, and will never stop fighting for a safer, healthier, more just world.
To learn how you can get involved, visit voteforchoice.org/takeaction.