Protect Access to Health Care
The Bush Administration has proposed regulations that could seriously undermine the ability of American women to get basic reproductive health care, including birth control and abortion. The regulations put politics above women’s health care needs.
As currently written, the rule leaves open the possibility that based on religious beliefs institutions and individuals can deny women access to birth control. It also permits individuals to refuse to provide information and counseling about basic heath care services. And it expands existing laws by permitting a wider range of health care professionals to refuse to provide even referrals for abortions.
For years, federal law has carefully balanced protections for individual religious liberty and patients’ access to reproductive health care. The proposed regulations appear to take patients’ health needs out of the equation, leaving millions of Americans who depend on federally funded reproductive health care services with no protections.
According to researchers at the Guttmacher Institute -- a nonprofit think tank on sexual and reproductive health -- without the contraceptive services provided at publicly funded clinics, there would be 46 percent more unintended pregnancies (1.4 million more) annually in the United States than currently occur.
At a time when more and more Americans are either uninsured or struggling with the soaring costs of health care, the federal government should be expanding access to important health services, not undermining existing protections or interfering in programs that have successfully provided services for years.