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HHS Secretary Refuses to Guarantee Patient Protections

Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is dismayed at U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt’s refusal to guarantee patient protections as his office moves forward with a proposed regulation that seriously jeopardizes women’s health. In a meeting today, Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray expressed grave concern over protections for women’s health care and asked Leavitt what changes he would make in the final rule to ensure that patients do not lose access to health information or services when a health care provider or volunteer refuses to provide them, and he failed to respond with any concrete assurances.

“This regulation unconscionably ignores a patient’s right to receive the critical health care services and information she deserves,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “Our concern is that women going to their local hospital or doctor’s office can no longer trust that they will receive the information they need to make the health care decision that is right for them.”

This proposed regulation would allow providers, based on their personal biases, to withhold both services and the critical information women need to make fully informed decisions about their health care. It leaves the term “abortion” undefined and open for interpretation to include birth control pills and other common types of contraception. With 98 percent of women using birth control at some time during their lives, this rule could directly affect health care access and services for 42 million women in America.

The growing opposition to this regulation is overwhelming.

  • More than 65,000 Planned Parenthood supporters have filed comments online during the public comment period.

  • A bipartisan coalition of governors and attorneys general are lining up in opposition to this regulation because of the threat it poses to existing state protections for health care access. This group includes Governors Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), Chris Gregoire (D-WA), M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Edward Rendell (D-PA), and others who plan to submit comments before the deadline.

  • More than 100 members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have joined a growing list of elected officials who are filing comments opposing this regulation.

The HHS proposed regulation is now posted in the federal register and a 30-day public comment period is closing in on us and will end at midnight on September 25, 2008. Comments can be submitted through Planned Parenthood here, or by sending an e-mail directly to HHS at



Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 880 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.


Diane Quest, 202-973-4851
Tait Sye, 202-973-4840

Published: 09.23.08

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