Bush Undermines Women’s Access To Reproductive Healthcare And Connecticut's Attorney General Fights Back


December 19, 2008

On Thursday, December 18, 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final regulation that could undermine women’s access to essential health-care services, including birth control. The regulation expands the universe of individuals and institutions that are explicitly afforded refusal rights, it allows individuals to refuse to give referrals and information about a broad range of services, and it fails to take into consideration laws that protect patient’s rights.

The HHS regulation is also deliberately vague in defining abortion. An earlier leaked version of the regulation defined abortion to include birth control explicitly. While the final version fails to provide any definition of abortion, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt has said that "this [final] regulation does not seek to resolve any ambiguity in that area”.

On the same day that the final regulation was issued, Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal announced that he is preparing to fight the federal regulation. In particular, this regulation threatens a 2007 Connecticut law that requires Connecticut’s hospitals to offer and provide victims of rape with emergency contraception. Attorney General Blumenthal said that "this new rule puts personal agendas before patient care—protecting doctor objections, but entirely ignoring the rights of rape victims and others to access birth control and other vital services”.

NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut (NPCC) will support any and all efforts to repeal this eleventh-hour attack on reproductive freedom. NPCC Executive Director, Jillian Gilchrest said, "I am extremely proud of our Attorney General and all those who are working to make sure that women have access to medically accurate healthcare services and information”.