Obama Administration Initiates Review Of Bush Health Care Denial Rule

February 27, 2009 12:00 am

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Bush Rule Hampers Access To Reproductive Health Services And Should Be Rescinded, Says ACLU

CONTACT: Linda Paris, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is initiating a review of an ill-advised Bush administration rule that allows health care workers and facilities to refuse to provide reproductive health care services, even at the expense of patient safety. The rule, pushed through in the waning hours of the Bush administration despite public objection,threatens access to basic reproductive health services, including contraception and counseling for abortion care.

“We are pleased that the Obama administration recognizes that this rule was essentially the Bush administration’s parting shot against women’s health and warrants careful review,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The rule jeopardizes patients’ access to important reproductive health services, especially for low-income and uninsured women who rely on federally funded health centers for care.”

Before issuing the rule in December 2008, the Bush administration received more than 200,000 comments, the overwhelming majority of which opposed the rule. Comments were submitted from major medical associations such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women’s health organizations, members of Congress, state governors and attorneys general, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious advocates, and the general public.

“The Obama administration has taken the first step toward rescinding this rule that fails to properly balance protections for individual religious liberty and patients’ access to health care,” said Jennifer Dalven, Deputy Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “At a time when more and more Americans are either uninsured or struggling with the soaring costs of health care, our federal government should be expanding, not hampering access to important health services. We are confident this ill-advised rule will ultimately be completely rescinded.”

On January 15, 2009, the ACLU, on behalf of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the Bush rule. The case was filed along with two other legal challenges: one brought by the state of Connecticut, joined by California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island; and the other, by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood of Connecticut.

For ACLU’s legal claim, go to:

For ACLU’s comments on the Bush rule, go to:

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