Monday, November 20th 2023, 10:11 pm
Attorney General Gentner Drummond initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for suspending a longstanding family planning grant received by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
The grant, in place for over 40 years, faced termination after the Biden Administration redirected millions in Title X funding from Oklahoma and Tennessee to pro-abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Drummond filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. It argues that HHS's decision contradicts federal law, which explicitly states that Title X funds cannot support programs where abortion serves as a method of family planning.
Drummond contends that Oklahoma is being penalized for its refusal to refer women for abortion, asserting that the Biden Administration's actions infringe upon the rights of the state and its elected representatives.
Governor Kevin Stitt voiced his support for Drummond's legal action, condemning the Biden administration's termination of healthcare funding due to Oklahoma's pro-life laws as an abuse of power.
“Oklahoma stands up for life,” Stitt said in a statement. “I am glad that Attorney General Drummond has chosen to pursue legal action and I will support this effort in any way necessary.”
Stitt emphasized the importance of these funds in providing essential services for Oklahomans and pledged his backing for the lawsuit.
Oklahoma Health Commissioner Keith Reed expressed gratitude for the state's legal challenge against federal overreach, denouncing HHS's decision as inappropriate.
“The OSDH has received and successfully distributed Title X funding since 1971, leveraging its statewide presence to serve all Oklahomans,” Reed said.
Reed acknowledged the support from state leadership, including Governor Stitt and Attorney General Drummond, and commended the swift action taken by Oklahoma's legislative leaders to secure supplementary state funds while fighting for the restoration of federal funds.
Although some health centers can still receive Title X funds independently of the state, organizations like Amplify Youth Health Collective say access would be limited.
"When Title X is no longer happening for County Health Departments or other health departments, then some of those services are curtailed or they aren't as accessible. Especially in rural Oklahoma,” Executive Director Heather Duvall said.
Duvall says Amplify Youth Health Collective provides sex education to teens by partnering with Title X funded health centers, and the results have been productive over the years.
"Since 2009, the teen birth rate has declined by 67 percent,” Duvall said. "These programs are working, and when we take any piece of healthcare access away, then we see that as a detriment."
Jim McCarthy is the CEO of Community Health Connection and says because of Oklahoma's ban on abortion, some health centers feared even mentioning the option would be illegal
"Under Title X federal law, which supersedes state law, we are obligated to provide the full slate of all the options if someone is trying to not become pregnant,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy says his clinic doesn't provide abortion services, but it does help its patients with the prevention of unintended pregnancy.
He says with the state no longer receiving funding, he expects an increase in demand, which could put a strain on providers.
The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court emphasizes the adverse impact of rescinding the grant on healthcare access for many Oklahomans, particularly in rural communities. The OSDH has utilized Title X funds since 1971 to provide services such as cancer screening, breast exams, depression screening, and pregnancy prevention.
The litigation seeks the reinstatement of Oklahoma's Title X Family Planning grant, arguing that HHS's actions disproportionately affect communities already struggling with limited access to crucial health services.
November 20th, 2023
December 29th, 2023
February 25th, 2024
February 25th, 2024
February 25th, 2024