From Rep. Diana DeGette:
WASHINGTON — As the Bush Administration takes action challenging reproductive rights in this country in its remaining days, U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), co-chairs of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, introduced legislation that would prohibit a dangerous proposed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation from being implemented. The measure was cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lois Capps (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The proposed HHS rule would require any health care entity that receives federal financing to certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable. The legislation introduced today would keep HHS from moving forward with this rule.
“The Bush Administration's 11th hour attempt to restrict access to reproductive health care is not only abusive, but also threatens everyone's access to other vital health care services,” said Rep. DeGette, Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. “This legislation sends a clear message that this is the wrong direction for health care policy in America. The Bush Administration continues to pursue its extreme ideology over sound public health care policies even as it enters its final days.”
“Eight continuous years of trouncing on women’s reproductive rights and playing politics with science has obviously not been enough for this Administration,” said Rep. Slaughter, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Rules. “As its parting gift to women across this country, the Administration has proposed a sweeping rule that goes beyond a woman's right to choose, beyond a woman's right to contraception and puts everyone's access to health care at risk. Even as the EEOC, including Bush appointees, strenuously objects to this rule, the Administration's unconscionable actions really show you just how out of touch they are with women and their families. In the 111th Congress, I hope we can focus on reducing the need for abortions through my bill, the Prevention First Act, which will empower women and expand access to affordable contraception.”
DeGette, Slaughter, and 124 other Members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in late September opposing the proposed rule, which would significantly undermine patients' access to vital health services and information. The letter argued that the “ill-conceived and unnecessary proposed rule puts politics and ideology before quality health care.” Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Senate companion bill earlier today.
The Speaker commented on the draft rule in July, saying:
If the Administration goes through with this draft proposal, it will launch a dangerous assault on women's health.
The majority of Americans oppose this out of touch position that redefines contraception as abortion and represents a sustained pattern of the Bush Administration to reject medical and sound science in favor of a misguided ideology that has no place in our government.
I urge the President to reject this policy and join with Democrats to focus on preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion through increasing access to family planning services and access to affordable birth control.