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On the heels of a last-minute regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which poses a serious threat to patients' rights to receive complete and accurate health care information and services, several newspaper editorials are echoing Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s criticism and calling for President-elect Barack Obama to repeal the rule.

Under the new rule, doctors, physicians, and health care workers of all kinds can deny patients vital health care information and services, without the patient even knowing. This rule will undermine health care access at nearly 600,000 health care facilities. With more than 45 million Americans currently uninsured, this is no time to make access to health care even more difficult. In addition, this rule could potentially create total chaos in an already stressed health care system, particularly for low-income women and families whose options are already limited.

Roughly 200,000 U.S. citizens, federal and state elected officials, medical organizations, and health care advocacy and religious organizations submitted comments opposing the misguided rule. The regulation broadens the scope of existing laws and reaches beyond congressional intent by focusing solely on providers, with absolutely no protections to ensure patients receive critical health care information and services.

A roundup of editorials criticizing the Bush administration’s HHS midnight regulation:

New York Times editorial: A Parting Shot at Women’s Rights.  “Undermining women’s reproductive rights and access to health care has been a pervasive theme of the outgoing administration. ... So it was unsurprising, but still dismaying, that the secretary of health and human services, Michael Leavitt, chose to extend that dismal record at the last minute with yet another awful regulation. ... By acting right away to suspend its implementation, President-elect Barack Obama and his choice to succeed Mr. Leavitt, Tom Daschle, can block irresponsible changes that threaten people’s rights and defy the federal government’s duty on public health. They should do so, and promptly follow up with a formal rule-making proceeding to rescind the regulation once and for all. And they can get rid of the gag rule.”

Hartford Courant editorial: New Rule Hurts Women.  “The Bush administration has launched an assault on women's rights with an eleventh-hour rule that could keep rape victims from getting emergency contraception. ... It is wrong to deny women legal reproductive services. It should be their choice whether to take emergency contraception or to undergo an abortion or sterilization, and government should not throw up obstacles to such wrenching private decisions. And it is unconscionable for the outgoing president to leave behind a mess that could take months for his successor to clean up. ... But clean it up President-elect Barack Obama must. He should make it a priority to reverse this disruptive regulation.”

Minnesota Star Tribune editorial: Politics is at root of 'midnight' rule.  Poor policy targets women's access to abortion, birth control.  “Thanks to opposition from groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and Planned Parenthood, there's been a glaring spotlight on a clumsy new policy from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that clearly targets women's access to abortion and birth control. ... The nation's leading medical organizations have objected to this politically motivated policy for months. They've been joined by at least eight governors and a coalition of 13 attorneys general; four more AGs, including Minnesota's, have registered concerns individually. The Obama administration has significant challenges as it takes office, but striking down this new rule needs to be a priority. Politics don't belong in the exam room.”

Albany Times Union editorial: One last battle. “Just as abortion rights groups had warned, the new rule now includes access to birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraceptives and other forms of contraception. Health care workers who equate any form of birth control with abortion will be able to refuse to dispense such medication. ... The Bush administration has tampered with enough laws and rights. Blocking access to women's health care, and so disingenuously, should be out of the question.”

Washington Spokesman-Review editorial: Bush’s health care rule lacks real conscience.  “The rule would hit low-income patients particularly hard, because they rely more on federally subsidized facilities. Women who are raped and could avoid pregnancies with emergency contraceptives can be turned down on moral grounds. They don’t even have to be informed that such pills exist. Once they arrive in the emergency room, their fate could hinge on who is working that night. ... This was a petty move by the administration, and it deserves to be reversed as soon as possible.”


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Tait Sye, 202-973-4840


December 29, 2008


May 14, 2014