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Public Comment Period Ends for Controversial Regulation that Jeopardizes Patient Access to Health Care

Washington, DC — In an overwhelming swell of opposition, more than 90,000 Planned Parenthood supporters submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that the administration stop its egregious attack on women’s health care. HHS proposed a regulation in August that would allow providers, based on their personal biases, to deny patients access to information and services. The 30-day public comment period ended Thursday, September 25.

“More than 90,000 Planned Parenthood supporters joined thousands more to state their serious objections to this regulation that jeopardizes women’s health,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards. “After eight years of disastrous health care policies, it is time for this administration to listen to the American people and change the course of this regulation that unforgivably ignores a patient’s right to receive the critical health care services and information she deserves.”

The vast opposition to this regulation should cause the administration to rethink the dangerous move, but HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt has shown little interest in protecting patients. In his official blog and in a meeting with U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray, Leavitt refused to guarantee he would change 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.

In addition to the comments of 90,000 Planned Parenthood supporters, opposition was voiced through official comments to HHS by these elected officials at the federal and state level:

  • A bipartisan coalition of more than 100 members of Congress.

  • A bipartisan coalition of governors, including Governors John Baldacci (D-ME), Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), Chet Culver (D-IA), Jim Doyle (D-WI), Christine Gregoire David Paterson (D-NY), (D-WA), M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Edward Rendell (D-PA), and Ted Strickland (D-OH).

  • A bipartisan coalition of 13 attorneys general from Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont, and attorneys general from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, submitted individual comments.

  • State legislators from a number of states wrote in opposition to the regulation, including state legislators from Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Nongovernmental organizations also made their opposition known:

  • More than 80 organizations joined Planned Parenthood in signing onto an opposition letter, including the American Nurses Association, the American Medical Student Association, the American Social Health Association, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and several prominent HIV/AIDS, international health, and gay rights organizations.

  • Prominent health care provider associations and health advocacy organizations weighed in with their opposition, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Association of Community Health Centers, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs.
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: 09.27.08