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California Sues To Block New Federal Abortion Restrictions

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra delivers the Democrats' Spanish language State of the Union response from McClatchy High School in Sacramento on Feb. 5, 2019.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Updated 2:02 p.m.

(AP) — California and several other Democratic-led states announced they were challenging the Trump administration's effort to set up obstacles for women seeking abortions, including barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Monday that the state filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco that aims to block a new family planning rule from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The rule shifts millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood to faith-based family planning organizations.

Becerra said the new rule affects 4 million mostly low-income women nationwide and 1 million women in California.

"The Trump-Pence administration has doubled down on its attacks on women's health," he said.

California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom joined Becerra and a group of Democratic state lawmakers to announce the lawsuit Monday in Sacramento.

“President Trump has decided to attack a program that helps to ensure that every person has access to basic, preventive and reproductive health care,” Siebel Newsom said. “This gag rule is an attack on women everywhere, but especially the most marginalized and most vulnerable among us.”

Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, said he supports the rule change because there needs to be a firewall between federal funds and abortion services.

“Unfortunately, I think this is just another example of Attorney General Becerra really just trying to jockey for position for higher office,” Keller said of the lawsuit.

Keller added that thousands of federally-qualified clinics that do not offer abortions are still available to meet women’s healthcare needs. 

Washington, D.C., and 19 states said they would sue separately in Oregon on Tuesday. The states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Washington's Democratic attorney general also previously said the state would challenge the rule.

Trump administration officials have told abortion opponents that they expected a number of legal challenges to the new family planning rule, which also prohibits federally funded family planning clinics from being housed in the same place as abortion providers.

The changes to the federal family planning program are scheduled to go into effect in May unless blocked in court.

The lawsuit in California is the latest of dozens of legal challenges that it and other states led by Democrats have filed in a bid to block Trump administration policies.

CapRadio's Chris Nichols contributed to this report.

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