Wisconsin joined 19 other states and the District of Columbia in a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration in an attempt to block a new rule that would make it illegal for taxpayer-funded family planning programs to provide patients with information about abortion services, even at the patient’s request. 

With the support of Gov. Tony Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul announced Wisconsin would join the multi-state lawsuit Tuesday.

“Healthcare access shouldn’t be political — all patients deserve access to unbiased, medically accurate, comprehensive care,” Evers said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s new rules would make it harder for thousands of Wisconsinites to access the critical family planning and preventative health services our Title X clinics provide each year.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed heavy changes to the Title X family planning program, the only federal program dedicated to providing affordable reproductive health services to low-income Americans, late last month. These services include access to contraceptives, breast and cervical cancer screenings, well-woman exams, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and other related health services. 

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In a press release, HHS said the new regulations are designed to increase the number of patients served and improve the quality of their care. But the changes have received major backlash, including nationwide legal challenges.

According to HHS, “the final rule does not bar non-directive counseling on abortion but eliminates the requirement that Title X providers offer abortion counseling and referral. It protects Title X healthcare providers so that they are not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral.”

The new rule, first proposed last year, is a win for Republicans, who have made the defunding of Planned Parenthood a key issue. Many pro-life advocates have fought for family planning funds to be re-allocated to organizations that do not provide or refer patients for abortions.

Pro-choice advocates and Tuesday’s lawsuit have criticized the new regulation as a “gag rule” that will prevent healthcare providers from speaking with women about their options.

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Title X funding was never allowed to directly support abortion services, but this new regulation — which would go into effect in May — mandates organizations like Planned Parenthood choose to forgo public funding or stop providing abortion-related information and services to their patients. Planned Parenthood has already said it will leave the Title X program if the rule is implemented — a move which would gut the organization of $60 million in funding per year. 

Yesterday, Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association announced they are also suing the Trump administration. Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, told The Capital Times, that her organization serves approximately 40 percent of Title X patients nationwide and 87 percent of Title X patients in Wisconsin.

“The Trump administration’s Title X gag rule is unethical and threatens the care of more than 31,000 who Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin serves under the Title X program,” Atkinson said in a statement emailed to The Badger Herald. “These patients rely on Planned Parenthood for critical preventive reproductive health care like birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment and well woman exams. No Title X funds go toward abortion care.”

Evers’ Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” plan and state budget proposal would invest nearly $28 million in expanding access to women’s health care and restore eligibility to Planned Parenthood for funding that was revoked under former Gov. Scott Walker.

“We can’t have healthy communities without healthy women and babies,” Evers said in a statement.