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Obama Administration Plans to Rescind Bush-Era Rule that Threatens Women’s Healthcare Access

The Obama Administration indicated today that they plan 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. According to the Associated Press, official notice of the decision will be published next week, which will be 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.

Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a press release that “Any time, any worker at a healthcare facility can prevent a woman seeking reproductive services from getting care, information and even, a referral – and the government sanctions such conduct – it’s time for a regulatory ‘do-over’. The Bush administration claimed that this policy protects healthcare providers against discrimination, but in truth, it leaves patients unprotected and seriously violates their rights and medical needs.”

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.

Sources:

National Partnership for Women & Families 12/18/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/26/08, 8/22/08; US Department of Health and Human Services 12/18/08; Associated Press 2/27/09; Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 2/27/09