All ACLU affiliates and more than 41,000 supporters ask administration to put health care first
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WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union and all its state affiliates, including Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services asking the administration to rescind regulations that could seriously undermine access to reproductive health services, including birth control and abortion.
"The proposed Bush regulations are silent when it comes to patients' health needs, appearing to disregard long-standing federal laws that carefully balance protections for individual religious liberty and patients' access to care," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The administration must put patients' needs back into the health care equation and take politics out."
In its comments, the ACLU warned that the proposed regulation "seriously jeopardizes access to reproductive health care, as well as other health care services for traditionally marginalized communities. And, it does so unnecessarily, as individuals’ religious and moral convictions are already strongly protected in federal law."
"If the administration ignores our call to protect patients' access to vital health care services and information, it is once again permitting politics to trump the needs of millions of Americans," said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "At a time when more and more Americans are either uninsured or struggling with the soaring costs of health care, the federal government should be expanding, not hampering access to important health services."
In addition to the comments submitted by the ACLU national office, 53 ACLU affiliates submitted comments, and more than 41,000 individuals sent comments through the ACLU's online service.
"HHS should listen to the public outrage and revoke these proposed regulations. It's time to put politics aside and put health care first," Fredrickson added.
ACLU's comments, submitted by Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, Louise Melling, Director of the Reproductive Freedom Project, Vania Leveille, Legislative Counsel of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office and Jennifer Dalven, Deputy Director of the Reproductive Freedom Project, have been posted at www.aclu.org/reproductiverights/gen/36942leg20080925.html