Oklahoma AG sues Biden administration over family planning grant clawback

By: - November 20, 2023 3:00 pm

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a Democratic National Committee last year in Washington, D.C. when he promised to codify access to abortion. Attorney General Genter Drummond filed a lawsuit over the loss of federal funds due to abortion issues. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) (This image cannot be republished unless you have a subscription to Getty.)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Genter Drummond filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration for clawing back a nearly $5 million family planning grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The Biden administration reallocated those funds to abortion-rights groups like Planned Parenthood, according to a Monday news release from Drummond’s office.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned longstanding protections for abortion at the federal level, the Oklahoma Legislature largely banned the procedure.

The grant does not allow clinics to perform abortions, but if patients request one, it does require them to provide education and counseling to obtain the procedure. Citing the state’s restrictive abortion laws, the Oklahoma State Department of Health has declined to refer patients for abortions.

Drummond said in a news release  that the Department of Health and Human Services is punishing Oklahoma’s elected officials’ efforts “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,” according to the lawsuit.

Gov. Kevin Stitt backed the lawsuit.

“Oklahoma stands up for life,” Stitt said. “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.”

County health departments have stopped offering confidential reproductive services to minors, including pregnancy testing and birth control.

Oklahoma Health Commissioner Keith Reed said in a statement the Legislature has provided state funds to make up for the lost grant funds the state has received since 1971.

“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,” Reed said.


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Mindy Ragan Wood
Mindy Ragan Wood

Mindy covers the legislature for Oklahoma Voice. Her areas of focus include infrastructure, municipal government policies, and human services with an emphasis on the needs of intellectually vulnerable and physically challenged adults.