Midnight tonight (September 25) is the deadline to submit comments on a rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A few weeks ago Planned Parenthood Action sounded the alarm about this proposal, which would allow health care providers to refuse to provide care that goes against their personal beliefs. This diary contains a link to a pdf file of the relevant document from HHS and explains how it could affect women’s health care:
Tweaking the interpretation of existing law, ALL employees of health care organizations would be able to refuse to be associated with providing services to which they are opposed. The administration says the new rule is targeted at abortion, but the trouble is they have made the rule so vague it could apply across the spectrum in health care, including the birth control women need to prevent abortions.
Creating a special class of employees based on personal beliefs allows everyone from the doctor to the receptionist have a say in your health care. Any employee can deny care to a patient, and the organization is helpless to take action to correct the situation.
* The receptionist who schedules your appointment may not do so because he or she does not agree with the type of contraception you use.
* The doctor may not tell you about all of your options because they are opposed based on their religious beliefs.
A health care organization that ensures patients get access to necessary services may lose its ability to provide federal assistance to low-income patients because of one employee. And they can take no corrective action.
Cecile Richards, who leads the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, sent out an e-mail yesterday urging concerned citizens to submit a public comment:
The Bush administration has issued a rule that would limit the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate reproductive health information when they visit a health care provider. It’s more of the Bush administration’s bad medicine, and this is our last chance to stop it.
This new rule could allow individual health care providers to redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control – and then refuse to provide these basic services. A woman’s ability to manage her own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology. We have until September 25 at midnight to voice our opposition.
If elected, the McCain/Palin ticket promises to be the most anti-choice administration ever. But first, the current president seems determined to do as much damage as he can before he leaves office. We have just one more day to voice our opposition to the Bush administration rule. Please take a moment right now to add your name to the hundreds of thousands of others who will not stand by and let this happen without a fight.
The Planned Parenthood Action Center has created a page where you can submit your comments on this proposed rule. It’s easy, so please do weigh in.