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Public Comment Period on Proposed HHS Regulations Ends, Objections Vocalized

The 30-day public commenting period on draft regulations by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would threaten women’s access to contraception and health care ended yesterday. Thirteen state attorneys generals, at least six medical groups, and many others have submitted letters urging the withdrawal of the regulations (see PDF), which were modified after widespread protest this summer.

Among other objections, the joint letter from state-level attorney generals (see PDF) argued that “medically necessary health care to patients would be withheld, even if such care has been prescribed by the patient’s primary health care provider…By focusing exclusively on the personal moral and religious beliefs of the health care provider, the proposed regulation unconscionably favors one set of interests, upsetting the carefully crafted balance that many states have sought to achieve.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, and The Society for Adolescent Medicine also submitted a joint letter (see PDF). This letter’s arguments against the proposed regulations included the fact that “the proposed regulation fails to make explicit that healthcare providers cannot deny women contraceptives by claiming they are tantamount to abortion. By not providing a definition of abortion consistent with medical authority, the regulations leave healthcare providers and institutions free to equate certain forms of contraception with abortion.”

Sources:

RH Reality Check 9/25/08; Letter from State Attorneys General 9/24/08; Letter from Medical Associations 9/23/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/21/08; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/22/08