Oklahoma Attorney General Sues HHS, Biden Administration Over Title X Grant Suspension

Oklahoma Attorney General Sues HHS, Biden Administration Over Title X Grant Suspension

Oklahoma's Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a lawsuit on Monday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after it suspended a family planning grant to the Oklahoma State Department of Health

Title X grant funding allows local county health departments to provide free or low-cost services including pregnancy testing, counseling, fertility testing, and other preconception services to those in need.  On May 25, HHS suspended the grant money for the state of Oklahoma because the Oklahoma Health Department was out of compliance with federal regulations.  

Drummond says that HHS rescinded Title X funding over Oklahoma's abortion bans. Specifically, OSDH does not offer referral options for women who are pregnant, Drummond says that this is not a requirement of Title X and that HHS is out of line, by suspending and terminating that state's funding.

Below is an excerpt from the filing:

“Title X in no way requires abortion referrals for a State’s continued participation. 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.”

Drummond said that he believes, the motivation by HHS is at the behest of President Biden's Administration and will adversely impact access to healthcare for many Oklahomans.

“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.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has not responded to the lawsuit.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has previously voiced his opposition to the decision by HHS and 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 that the Attorney General has filed this lawsuit on behalf of the state.

“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.”

Earlier this year, Senator James Lankford offered his own criticism of the decision, saying HHS was "prioritizing abortions instead of prioritizing actual healthcare...”

Related Story: Sen. Lankford Leads Charge Against Suspension Of Title X Grant