OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 20, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond has filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after that federal agency suspended a family planning grant that the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has received for more than 40 years.
The Biden Administration recently made headlines when it took millions in Title X grant money from Oklahoma and Tennessee, and gave it instead to pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. In particular, HHS nixed several million dollars of Oklahoma’s Title X funding earlier this year solely because Oklahoma declines to refer women for abortion.
Importantly, federal law stipulates that Title X funds cannot be “used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” This point is emphasized in the lawsuit.
“Title X in no way requires abortion referrals for a State’s continued participation,” the filing states. “Rather, sans authority, HHS seeks to punish Oklahoma for the policies adopted by Oklahoma’s elected representatives to protect unborn life. HHS is interfering with rights reserved to the people and their elected representatives despite a clear federal mandate that Title X funds should not be used in programs where abortion is offered as a method of family planning.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt emphasized his support for Oklahoma’s pro-life policies and said he supports Drummond’s lawsuit.
“Oklahoma stands up for life,” said the Governor. “The Biden administration’s actions to terminate our healthcare funding due to our pro-life laws is simply an abuse of power. These funds are essential to provide necessary services for Oklahomans across the state. I am glad that Attorney General Drummond has chosen to pursue legal action and I will support this effort in any way necessary.”
Oklahoma Health Commissioner Keith Reed said he is grateful Oklahoma is taking action against the federal overreach.
“The OSDH has received and successfully distributed Title X funding since 1971, leveraging its statewide presence to serve all Oklahomans,” Reed said. “The HHS decision to suspend and ultimately terminate these funds is wholly inappropriate, and we are committed to working alongside state leadership to see these funds reinstated. We want to thank Gov. Stitt and Attorney General Drummond for their support of OSDH in this fight for Oklahoma citizens. We also want to recognize Oklahoma’s legislative leadership for their swift action in providing supplementary state funds, ensuring critical services remain in place until the federal funds are appropriately restored.”
Attorney General Drummond said he is committed to working with the Oklahoma State Department of Health to restore the funds for their intended purpose.
“The Biden Administration is intent on punishing Oklahoma because we do not share its liberal philosophy,” he said. “It is patently discriminatory to deny Oklahoma these critical funds, particularly when federal law makes it clear that Title X cannot be used for abortion. I will continue to fight against federal overreach in all forms.”
Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, the complaint notes that rescinding the grant will adversely impact access to healthcare for many Oklahomans.
“In many instances, particularly in rural Oklahoma communities, the Health Department and county health departments may be one of the only access points for critical preventative services for tens or even hundreds of miles,” reads the lawsuit.
“Some of these same rural communities may not have a grocery store, let alone the presence of a full-time health provider or women’s health provider. Thus, many of the patients the Health Department sees already have difficulty accessing the health care they need because of location, work schedules, and/or transportation issues. These communities are disproportionality impacted by lack of easy access to crucial health services, and that impact will grow as a result of HHS’s arbitrary and punitive action.”
OSDH uses Title X funds for a range of services such as cancer screening, breast exams, depression screening and pregnancy prevention.
The litigation seeks reinstatement of Oklahoma’s Title X Family Planning grant.
Read the complaint here.