Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama may rescind Bush rule that limits reproductive-health care

From: The Minnesota Independent

By Andy Birkey

Barack Obama’s administration signaled on Friday that it may rescind a policy of the Bush administration that allows health care providers to refuse care based on moral or religious convictions. The change has the potential to impact family-planning services, access to birth control, end-of-life issues and even gays and lesbians.

“We’ve been concerned that the way the Bush rule is written, it could make it harder for women to get the care they need. It is worded so vaguely that some have argued it could limit family-planning counseling and even potentially blood transfusions and end-of-life care,” an official with the Department of Health and Human Services told The Washington Post.

Minnesota’s reproductive-health organizations hailed the decision to rescind the rule. They’ve been worried that anti-abortion groups’ erroneous definition of abortion could cause religious objectors to refuse emergency contraception to rape victims.

“Our priority is ensuring that the tens of thousands of patients we see every year receive complete and accurate health information and services,” said Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “In these difficult economic times and with more than 45 million Americans currently uninsured, it is critical that we work to increase, not limit, access to health care. When a patient walks into a hospital, pharmacy or any health care center she should be confident she will receive complete and accurate health care information and services.”

The rule change will undergo a 30-day public comment period. The administration said it may or may not rescind the entire rule, but that as it stands the rule to too vague.

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