The Planned Parenthood lawsuits contend abstinence-only pregnancy-prevention programs can contain false and misleading information and stigmatize teens who have sex.
Several Planned Parenthood affiliates have sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over its efforts to impose an abstinence-only focus on its Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program that has served more than 1 million young people.
The lawsuits were filed Friday in federal courts in New York City and Spokane by affiliates covering New York City and Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and Washington.
Planned Parenthood said the lawsuits are meant to protect the pregnancy-prevention program from what they termed ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage campaigns.
“Young people have the right to the information and skills they need to protect their health,” Dawn Laguens said in a news release, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The Trump-Pence administration is trying to impose their abstinence-only agenda on young people across the country.”
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An email to Health and Human Services (HHS) was not immediately answered Friday. In previous court documents, the agency has said it has the right to change its funding priorities.
The program has served about 1.2 million teens in 39 states since it started in 2010. The Trump administration in April announced it would remake the program to push abstinence-only counseling.
A federal judge in Seattle last month became the latest to block the administration from cutting off money for science-based, pregnancy-prevention programs. King County had sued after HHS decided to end, two years early, a $5 million grant.
The county was among 81 grant recipients told last summer their funding would end early.
The decision to end the grants was made after President Donald Trump appointed Valerie Huber as chief of staff for the Office of Assistant Secretary of Health
After her appointment, Huber wrote an article decrying the lack of federal funding for abstinence education and questioned the effectiveness of teen-pregnancy-prevention grants.
Supporters of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program credit it with helping to lower the teen pregnancy rate 41 percent since 2010. But the agency has issued past statements calling the program ineffective.
Congress created the $110 million program in 2010 to support and develop evidence-based ways to reduce teen pregnancy. In 2015, HHS awarded the 81 grants that were to last five years.
The lawsuits were filed by Planned Parenthood of New York City; Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands; Planned Parenthood of the Heartland; and Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho.
The lawsuits contend abstinence-only programs can contain false and misleading information and stigmatize teens who have sex.
In addition to the agency, the lawsuits name as defendants HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Huber.