Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Challenge To HHS Family Planning Grant Criteria Fails

In Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Inc. v. Azar, (D DC, July 16, 2018), the D.C. federal district court dismissed a challenge to an Announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services brought by three Planned Parenthood affiliates and the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.  Plaintiffs particularly object to new language in criteria for funding of voluntary family planning projects.  The new language includes "cooperation with faith based organizations" as one factor to be considered. The court first concluded that the Announcement is not yet subject to judicial review because it is not final agency action. The court went on to hold that even if it reached the merits of the challenge, the Announcement would be valid, saying in part:
such linkages [to faith-based groups] may benefit Title X providers by providing connections to communities in need of Title X services and strengthening enrollment and awareness programming, among other benefits.... The Announcement’s low-key encouragement to partner with community and faith-based organizations is not contrary to law, or arbitrary and capricious.
Courthouse News Service reports on the decision.