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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 [email protected].



Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


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


September 23, 2008


May 14, 2014