Family Planning Services Equated to Abortions by Insurance Companies

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) today called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to stop misguided plans to put in place new obstacles for women accessing family planning services.  This proposed rule change is a poorly-veiled attempt to roll-back women’s health care options before the current Administration leaves office.

In a letter to Secretary Michael Leavitt, Senators Clinton and Murray underscored that new planned regulations will increase barriers to obtaining health care services, while weakening health care providers’ ability to obtain funding and provide services.

“It is outrageous that the Bush administration is once again putting ideology over women’s health.  Instead of undercutting access to contraception and family planning services, the Bush Administration should put prevention first,” said Senator Clinton.

“On the first day of his administration, the President reinstated the Mexico City global gag clause, a harsh, anti-family planning policy that hurt the world’s poorest women and children.  Now, on his way out the door it appears that he is trying to limit women’s health care options here at home,” Murray said.  “This misguided attempt to restrict health care services and limit access to contraceptives defeats our common goal of reducing the number of abortions in this country.”

Senators Murray and Clinton have worked tirelessly to stop efforts by the Bush Administration to put in place ideological barriers to contraception.  Senators Murray and Clinton successfully led the fight to secure an administration decision on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B emergency contraception after more than three years of Administration delay.

The text of the Senators’ letter follows:

Secretary Michael O. Leavitt
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Mr. Secretary:

It has come to our attention that the Department of Health and Human Services may be preparing draft regulations that would create new obstacles for women seeking contraceptive services.
One of the most troubling aspects of the proposed rules is the overly-broad definition of “abortion.” This definition would allow health-care corporations or individuals to classify many common forms of contraception – including the birth control pill, emergency contraception and IUDs – “abortions” and therefore to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it.

As a consequence, these draft regulations could disrupt state laws securing women’s access to birth control. They could jeopardize federal programs like Medicaid and Title X that provide family-planning services to millions of women. They could even undermine state laws that ensure survivors of sexual assault and rape receive emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms.

We strongly urge you to reconsider these regulations before they are released. We are extremely concerned by this proposal’s potential to affect millions of women’s reproductive health.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Senator Patty Murray
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)

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