The Obama Administration formally moved Friday to rescind Bush-era regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that threaten women’s access to contraception and comprehensive health care. Publication of the official notice (see PDF) is followed by a 30 day commenting period.
The regulations were released in their final version late in 2008. They established new protections for health care providers who refuse to provide certain services based on moral or religious bases. The provisions of the regulation placed the burden on women to seek out individual providers who will provide certain kinds of treatment, including birth control, abortion and sterilization.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a press release that this action “clearly states that the Obama administration is committed to putting patients’ care first….Patients, especially low- income women, deserve access to complete and accurate health care information and services and today’s action shows that this administration understands and will meet this need. This is a commonsense fix.”
A draft of the regulations was leaked during the summer of 2008, drawing widespread protest. During a month-long public commenting period, HHS received tens of thousands of comments against the regulations, including letters opposing it from at least thirteen state attorney generals and six medical groups.