Baltimore sues Trump administration to block abortion referral rules it says would cost city $1.4 million

Baltimore has filed a lawsuit seeking to block a Trump administration rule designed to steer family planning funding away from organizations that provide abortion referrals, saying the new regulation could cost the city $1.4 million.

In March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules for so-called Title X funding. The rules could, in particular, cost health provider Planned Parenthood millions. They may open ways for other health providers — ones opposed to abortion — to receive money under the federal program.

Previously, organizations receiving the funding couldn’t use it to pay for abortions. The change means organizations that receive the funds would no longer be able to even refer patients to an abortion provider.

The new rule is supported by anti-abortion campaigners, who say they want clear lines between organizations that get federal funding and those that provide abortions.

Baltimore officials say the Title X money helps provide health care for some 16,000 patients in the city and clinics that rely on the funds could close because of the new rule. The result, the city argues, would be more unintended pregnancies, more cancer that is not quickly detected, and the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

The city filed the lawsuit Friday. On Monday, Baltimore’s lawyers asked a federal judge to stop the rule from going into effect while the case plays out in court.

Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, who was sworn in Tuesday as city health commissioner, said in a statement that the city uses the money to provide cancer screenings, reproductive health and education.

“An end to Title X funding would have a devastating impact on the residents served,” Dzirasa said. “As a health department, we cannot stand idly by as funding is being pulled. We will continue to pursue justice in this case on behalf of the residents of Baltimore city.”

After the rule was issued, Maryland’s Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh joined 30 other state attorneys general to challenge the rules. That case was filed in Oregon.

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