FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Draft Women's Health Regulation Leaked Yesterday Would Undermine Access to Birth Control
Statement of Marilyn Keefe, Director of Reproductive Health Programs, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, DC — July 15, 2008 — “A reproductive health regulation being developed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is an ill-conceived political ploy designed to win favor from those determined to deny women basic health services. The leaked draft of the regulation would put politics ahead of women’s health by allowing individuals and organizations to redefine accepted, FDA-approved methods of birth control including oral contraceptives, IUDs and injectables as abortifacients. This definition is at odds with widely accepted science, and the government’s own definition, that pregnancy begins with the implantation of a fertilized egg.
This regulation shows callous disregard for low-income women facing unplanned pregnancies. It is political pandering at its very worst. It reflects an agenda that Americans strongly oppose, for good reason. Nine in ten women in this country use birth control, and making it accessible to everyone who needs it is the best way to reduce unplanned pregnancy and abortion.
This regulation would cause real harm. Under the guise of clarifying long standing “conscience” exemptions in federal law, it would undermine women’s access to birth control services and information. It would threaten biomedical research. It could undermine state and federal initiatives to ensure access to birth control via contraceptive coverage insurance requirements and pharmacy access laws. And it seems designed to spur lawsuits against reproductive health providers who offer the only health care many low-income women receive.
If the President cared about improving women’s health, he would ask Congress to increase funding for the Title X clinics and Medicaid-funded family planning services that are a lifeline for low-income women, rather than redefining pregnancy and inviting litigation against health care providers. There is no need for this regulation, no problem to solve. It should be stopped.”
The National Partnership is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting access to quality health care, fairness in the workplace, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.