The Bush administration is up to its old tricks again, quietly putting ideology before science and women's health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is poised to put in place new barriers to accessing common forms of contraception like birth control pills, emergency contraception and IUDs by labeling them "abortion." These proposed regulations set to be released next week will allow healthcare 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. In fact, they describe New York and California's laws requiring prescription drug insurance plans to provide coverage for contraceptives as part of "the problem." These rules would even interfere with New York State law that ensures survivors of sexual assault and rape receive emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms.
We've seen this kind of ideologically driven move from the Bush administration before. Senator Patty Murray and I went toe to toe with the Bush administration to demand a decision on Plan B by the FDA. We won that fight and we need to win this one too.
When I learned about these proposed rules, I immediately joined with Senator Murray to call on the Bush administration to stop these dangerous plans. I am joining with New York family planning and healthcare advocates to spread the word. Now is the time to raise our voices. I will continue to press HHS and I hope you will join me. I have posted information on how to get involved here.