Relman, Dane & Colfax recently filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a coalition of 19 cities and counties supporting Planned Parenthood's challenge to a Trump Administration action that threatens to upend long-standing federal funding for contraceptive and reproductive health services. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)--without first giving notice or asking for comment--abruptly added new criteria for funding recipients, such as emphasizing abstinence counseling, working with faith-based organizations, and providing unrelated services at the same location. The cities' brief supports Planned Parenthood's argument that HHS's action violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
Title X funds access to contraception and reproductive health care for low-income individuals throughout the United States. In addition to Planned Parenthood clinics, Title X also supports municipal health departments that offer these services directly to their constituents. For decades, Title X funding awards have been based on criteria set out in Title X's implementing regulations, such as the adequacy of facilities and staff and local needs. But in February, HHS abruptly announced requirements that are inconsistent with the program's purposes and undermine existing Title X providers' ability to provide their clients with critical services.
In support of Planned Parenthood's appeal to the D.C. Circuit, the cities' brief explains that the new criteria--particularly the abstinence counseling requirement--undermine providers' ability to deliver reproductive health care services, both because it can damage patient trust and because abstinence counseling is not an effective family planning tool. The brief also explains that disruption of funding to communities dependent on a small number of long-established providers is likely to endanger the public health that cities must protect.
The City Attorney's Office of Columbus, OH, co-counseled with Relman, Dane & Colfax in preparing this brief. Joining the brief were Tucson, AZ; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Baltimore, MD; St. Paul, MN; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; Albany, NY; New York, NY; Akron, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Dayton, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Providence, RI; Austin, TX; Seattle, WA; and Dane County, WI. Click here to review the brief.