New Administration Begins to Change Refusal Rule

One of President Bush’s parting gifts to Americans was a last minute rule change which allows health care providers to refuse basic care to low-income women. Many of the people who depend on the wide array of publicly funded family planning services are at risk of being denied essential health services with no regard to the needs of the patient.

On Friday, cognizant of the prior administration’s misguided efforts and after months of tireless work from family planning supporters, President Obama took the first step toward rescinding this “midnight regulation,” thereby affirming his commitment to family planning, curbing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion.

The move is an important step towards eliminating the damaging rule, but there is still much work to be done. Already conservative ideologues – who claim to oppose abortion but who refuse to support common-sense, common-ground solutions like family planning, which helps prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduces the need for abortion – are in an uproar about the move to rescind this rule.
The White House’s next step is to publish a new notice of proposed rulemaking rescinding the Bush rule in the Federal Register, and to accept comments from "people across the ideological spectrum" during a 30-day public comment period.

Now more than ever, it is important for family planning providers and supporters to make it clear that the Bush Administration's extreme anti-contraception rule is unacceptable. Women and men who depend on these services cannot afford for their access to counseling, education, contraception and preventive health screenings to be limited by such a policy. Once the comment period starts, I urge each and every person who supports full and open access to reproductive health care to tell HHS that you support this rescission.

We hope that President Obama’s bold move on Friday is indicative of a marked change in Washington politics. The President is to be congratulated for moving swiftly to mitigate the harmful consequences of a policy implemented by anti-contraception ideologues.
For more information about the importance of family planning services, visit nationalfamilyplanning.org.