[NOW Actions] Speak Out to Overturn Dangerous HHS Refusal Rule
Support NOW's Work | March 23, 2009 | Tell a Friend
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Speak Out to Overturn Dangerous HHS Refusal Rule
President Obama has started the regulatory process to rescind the dangerous and unethical "provider conscience" healthcare refusal rule that George W. Bush pushed through in his final days in office. NOW and allies had urged the president to withdraw this rule as one of his early actions, and we are happy to see that the process has begun!
The process started with a formal regulatory notice on March 6, which is followed by a 30 day public comment period. That's where you come in! We are asking you to take a few minutes to send a message supporting the rescinding of this rule that dramatically undermines women's access to a wide range of reproductive health services.
Take action NOW!
The Department of Health and Human Services' "provider conscience" rule currently allows doctors, nurses, pharmacies, health insurers or any other health care provider to deny access to birth control and emergency contraception or refuse to provide information about abortion, refuse to screen for HIV/AIDS or provide any other service that they find morally objectionable. The HHS rule is written so broadly that it allows any employee or volunteer to refuse to perform a job function -- regardless of the patient's needs.
This regulation invites ideology to intervene in sound medical practice. Information and services -- even those that could save a patient's life -- could be withheld without the patient even knowing they were available. There are no protections in the regulation to guard against situations where a refusal could result in serious injury or death.
The HHS regulation explicitly overrides a long-standing requirement that all providers using federal Title X family planning funds must offer patients non-directive counseling about all options related to their pregnancy. Also affected are the Maternal and Child Health Program and the Medicaid program which serve the reproductive health needs of 17 million women.
For these women, take action NOW!
More than 572,000 health care entities are impacted. They are now required to certify that they are complying with the HHS rule and that they understand any violation may result in the "termination by the Department of any grant, cooperative agreement, contract, [or] grant under contract." This is a clear threat to providers coming at a time of serious economic crisis when many have lost jobs and health insurance coverage and when the national health care safety net itself is in jeopardy.
Please join with NOW leadership and 80 other organizations, plus 150 members of Congress, a bipartisan group of governors and attorneys general, and many thousands of activists to urge the rescission of the so-called HHS provider conscience rule.
Send a message NOW!
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