An Assault on Women’s Health

July 22, 2008

These are the words used by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe draft regulations by the Bush administration that would severely limit women’s access to reproductive health and family planning services, including some of the most common forms of birth control. As reported in the New York Times, the possible proposed regulations would expand the reasons a service provider, clinic, hospital, insurance company, or doctor, nurse, or other employee would be permitted to refuse to provide certain services. Those services would be newly defined as

any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.

Under this broad definition, many common forms of birth control, including birth control pills, IUDs, and emergency contraception would be falsely labeled as abortion and would not necessarily be available, even at clinics claiming to provide family planning services.

In an article in the Huffington Post, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) writes that

These proposed regulations set to be released next week will allow health care providers to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it. We can’t let them get away with this underhanded move to undermine women’s health, and that’s why I am sounding the alarm.

These rules pose a serious threat to providers and uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. They could prevent providers of federally funded family planning services, like Medicaid and Title X, from guaranteeing their patients access to the full range of comprehensive family planning services. They’ll also build significant barriers to counseling, education, contraception and preventive health services for those who need it most: low-income and uninsured women and men.

The regulations could even invalidate state laws that currently ensure access to contraception for many Americans …

AAUW supports the right of every woman to safe, accessible, affordable, and comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services and believes that access to complete reproduction health information and services enhances women’s reproductive choices. Check out our position paper on reproductive rights.

Take action against this attack on women’s health and family planning! Send a message to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt urging him to protect the reproductive health and safety of all women and girls, rather than limiting it.

By:   |   July 22, 2008

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