Proposed Health and Human Services Rule Would Override MN EC Law

A proposed rule change to Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations would endanger a Minnesota law that requires doctors to offer rape victims emergency contraception. The federally proposed rule would expand the definition of abortion to falsely label several types of birth control – including emergency contraception, the pill and IUDs – as abortifacients, reports the Feminist Daily News Wire. It would also deny federal funds to medical providers who will not hire doctors or nurses that object to abortion.

State laws that require doctors to provide the option of emergency contraception to rape victims, would be effectively nullified. Minnesota’s law has been in place since 2007 and was passed with an overwhelming majority, according to the Star-Tribune. A press conference was held at the State Capitol Tuesday, where advocates and lawmakers expressed concern over the rule change’s ability to limit access to birth control in Minnesota and around the nation.

The rule would affect over 500,000 medical facilities, reports the National Partnership for Women & Families. The rule states that “the conscience of the individual or institution should be paramount in determining what constitutes abortion.” This effectively places individual and institutional beliefs over patients’ rights, greatly endangering women’s health. “If anyone can walk away from a person in need, and call it a day, that’s problematic for hospitals,” said David Feinwachs, chief counsel of the Minnesota Hospital Association, according to the Star-Tribune.

The rule change is currently being debated within HHS. There is no timetable for when the final version of the rule will be released.


National Partnership for Women & Families 7/30/2008; Star-Tribune 7/30/2008; Feminist Daily News Wire 7/16/2008; RH Reality Check

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