The Department of Health and Human Services said it could not comment on pending litigation.
"It's hard to believe that a federal program that is dedicated to family planning does not mention the [word] 'contraception' ... even once in a 60-page funding announcement," said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, in a written statement.
The program "was created in response to President Richard Nixon's proclamation that 'no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition,' " she added. "[We] cannot stand by while the Trump administration advances plans that would damage women's health and the public health of our nation."
Health centers supported by Title X, which will dole out an estimated $260 million to grantees this year, have done much more than provide birth control to those who might not have access otherwise, Coleman said.
The centers also offer preventative health services, including screening and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, detection of cervical and breast cancer and HIV testing. (By law, Coleman clarified, Title X funding cannot be used to pay for abortions.)
Christy Miceli, a 39-year-old small-business owner from Hartford, Wisconsin, can attest to all of this. Thanks to Title X funding, Planned Parenthood became her go-to place for Pap smears, birth control and STD testing starting in high school. And, as a result, Planned Parenthood discovered the cancerous cells on her cervix when she was 24 and saved her life, she said Wednesday.
"Reproductive health care is not a luxury. It is life-saving care that every person should be able to access, no matter how much money they make," she said. "It is my right to live, and without Planned Parenthood and Title X, I wouldn't be here."
In Wisconsin, where more than 70% of counties are experiencing a shortage of health care providers, there are seven counties for which Planned Parenthood is the only option for Title X care, said Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, one of the three affiliates to file suit (the others are in Utah and Ohio).
If funding shortfalls force the closure of Title X providers in rural areas or places that serve low-income residents, there may be no other options for some patients, she said.
The lawsuits, filed Wednesday in the federal district court of the District of Columbia, seek to block funding changes that could financially hurt organizations like Planned Parenthood.
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