WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a ruling in Ohio v. Becerra, which involves a challenge brought by Ohio and ten other states to the Biden administration’s Title X rule. Today’s ruling upholds the requirement that Title X providers offer pregnant patients an abortion referral upon the patient’s request. However, the Sixth Circuit found that the current rule does not require adequate separation between abortion care and the services provided under Title X, like birth control and STI care, creating confusion about the future of family planning services. The court granted only Ohio’s request for a preliminary injunction, meaning the ruling affects Ohio alone at this time.
This case is being pursued by opponents of reproductive rights and is yet another attack on reproductive freedom following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which has significantly restricted access to essential health care for people across the country. Restricted access to sexual and reproductive health care disproportionately harms Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, who already face barriers to health care due to systemic racism and discrimination.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Our right to control our bodies, lives, and futures is under attack. Anti-abortion rights politicians continue to make it clear: they will not stop at trying to ban abortion. They want to take away birth control, STI testing, and more. Planned Parenthood organizations will continue to fight these attacks on our most basic rights and personal health decisions.”
Created in 1970 with bipartisan support, Title X is the nation’s only federal program dedicated to providing affordable birth control and other sexual and reproductive health care to people with low incomes. It funds essential health care services like birth control counseling and methods, STI testing and treatment, breast and cervical cancer screenings, pre-pregnancy care, and more.
In 2019, the Trump administration imposed a domestic gag rule to prohibit Title X providers from referring patients for abortion. In practice, this rule denied people access to information about where they can get an abortion, even when they asked for it, forcing providers to withhold information from their patients. The dangerous and medically unnecessary gag rule forced many providers out of the program, including Planned Parenthood affiliates, who served about 40% of the program’s nearly 4 million patients. As a result, the Title X network’s patient capacity was slashed in half, creating even more barriers to affordable health care for people with low incomes.
Understanding the devastating harm caused by the gag rule, the Biden administration rescinded the Trump administration’s gag rule in October 2021, allowing many providers back in the program and beginning the process of rebuilding its patient capacity. Today’s ruling comes as attacks on Title X continue to escalate, including in Deanda v. Becerra, and other cases in both state and federal courts that all seek to chip away at people’s remaining access to sexual and reproductive health care.