WASHINGTON (KFOR) – An Oklahoma senator says he is leading the charge against the Health and Human Services regarding a grant for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) is leading the Oklahoma congressional delegation on a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for suspending the $4.5 million Title X Family Planning grant, which was awarded to the OSDH.

Lankford says HHS is suspending the funding over the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s refusal to refer for abortions.

“Oklahomans rely on OSDH’s family planning program for Title X family planning services including cancer screenings, pregnancy prevention, STI diagnostics and treatment, breast exams, and depression screenings and referrals, among a multitude of other services. OPA’s decision to suspend OSDH’s award will severely limit Oklahoman’s access to these services. In doing this, HHS is disregarding one of its own stated goals to ‘protect and strengthen equitable access to high quality and affordable health care,’” the Members wrote.

The letter was signed by Lankford, Sen. Markwayne Mullin, Rep. Frank Lucas, Rep. Tom Cole, Rep. Stephanie Bice, Rep. Kevin Hern, and Rep. Josh Brecheen.

“We are extremely concerned by the decision of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Population Affairs (OPA) to suspend the $4.5 million Title X Family Planning grant awarded to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). Oklahomans across the state, particularly in rural areas with limited access to affordable health care, rely on the services provided by this funding. The suspension of the funds due to HHS’ novel interpretation of federal law regarding OSDH’s obligations under state law will substantially harm our constituency,” the letter read.

In the letter, the delegates say 30,000 Oklahomans are in need of free or low-cost services that are funded by the grant.

They state that OSDH was “determined to be out of compliance with Title X regulations” because it cannot address abortion as a method of family planning, according to state law.

“Not only does the suspension lack any foundation in the applicable statutes and rules, but suspending the state’s federally-funded family planning services will result in substantial harm to the very individuals that Title X was enacted to serve,” the letter reads.

“Oklahoma’s laws protect women and unborn children from the violence of abortion in the interest of promoting families, keeping Oklahomans safe, and protecting life. OSDH’s decision to follow federal and state law by protecting unborn life and seeking the welfare of individual patients and their families is a noble one. OPA’s determination of noncompliance is jeopardizing the health care of Oklahomans and has no legitimate legal foundation. Rather, HHS is interpreting laws and regulations through a political lens and ignoring clear parameters of the statutes enacted by Congress,” it continued.

The delegates say Oklahomans rely on the program for cancer screenings, pregnancy prevention, STI diagnostics and treatments, breast exams, depression screenings, and other services.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Department of Health released the following statement regarding the issue.

“HHS has interpreted their rules in such a way as to require OSDH to execute the grant via a policy that is contrary to state law. Because OSDH cannot comply, HHS has suspended Oklahoma’s Title X grant for noncompliance. We have worked for months and continue to work with HHS to a reach an acceptable resolution that does not force OSDH to directly or indirectly violate Oklahoma law.”