THE BLOG
10/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hillary and Cecile Richards: Basic Care for Millions of Women at Stake

NOTE: I'm an Internet Adviser to Hillary Clinton

I wanted to share an important op-ed on an issue that Hillary has taken the lead on.

Some background: In July, in response to word of proposed rule changes at the Department of Health and Human Services, Hillary and Sen. Patty Murray sent a letter to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt saying, "It has come to our attention that the Department of Health and Human Services may be preparing draft regulations that would create new obstacles for women seeking contraceptive services. One of the most troubling aspects of the proposed rules is the overly-broad definition of "abortion." This definition would allow health-care corporations or individuals to classify many common forms of contraception - including the birth control pill, emergency contraception and IUDs - "abortions" and therefore to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it. As a consequence, these draft regulations could disrupt state laws securing women's access to birth control."

In a press release accompanying the letter, Hillary and Sen. Murray said that the rule change was a "poorly-veiled attempt to roll-back women's health care options ... it is outrageous that the Bush administration is once again putting ideology over women's health. Instead of undercutting access to contraception and family planning services, the Bush Administration should put prevention first."

Today, Hillary and Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood president) published the following Op-Ed:

"Last month, the Bush administration launched the latest salvo in its eight-year campaign to undermine women's rights and women's health by placing ideology ahead of science: a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that would govern family planning. It would require that any health care entity that receives federal financing -- whether it's a physician in private practice, a hospital or a state government -- certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable. ...

"Laws that have been on the books for some 30 years already allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further, ensuring that all employees and volunteers for health care entities can refuse to aid in providing any treatment they object to, which could include not only abortion and sterilization but also contraception. ...

"The definition of abortion in the proposed rule is left open to interpretation. An earlier draft included a medically inaccurate definition that included commonly prescribed forms of contraception like birth control pills, IUD's and emergency contraception. That language has been removed, but because the current version includes no definition at all, individual health care providers could decide on their own that birth control is the same as abortion. ...

"The 30-day comment period on the proposed rule runs until Sept. 25. Everyone who believes that women should have full access to medical care should make their voices heard. Basic, quality care for millions of women is at stake."