The New York Civil Liberties Union today expressed its outrage at draft regulations proposed by the Bush administration that could jeopardize access to basic health care services for millions of women in New York and across the country. The draft regulations, which apply to several laws governing the use of federal funds by states and health care facilities, limit access to birth control and deliberately confuse the definition of contraception and abortion.
As currently drafted, the regulations could:
- Allow federally funded health care professionals and institutions to refuse reproductive health services, including common forms of birth control.
- Undermine existing New York laws that protect women’s access to birth control.
- Compel women’s health clinics in New York to hire individuals unwilling to provide basic health services.
“New York has been a leader in providing women access to reproductive health care, particularly contraception,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “These draft regulations would trample that historic commitment to women’s health. They are the product of an administration that time and again shows that it values political ideology over the health and wellbeing of the American people.”
The draft regulations would seriously undermine state laws that broaden women’s access to contraception. New York was among the first states in the nation to enact a law requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault. It also was among the first to pass a law, recently upheld by New York’s highest court, ensuring that employer insurance plans cover contraceptives.
“President Bush and other conservatives talk a big game about their commitment to federalism and states’ rights, yet they would happily issue regulations that in effect nullify important New York laws to satisfy their political agenda,” said Lieberman. “It is hypocrisy on a grand scale.”
Research shows that up to 98 percent of sexually active women aged 15–44 have used contraception.
“Once again, the Bush administration shows it is completely out of step with the lives and views of the majority of Americans,” said Galen Sherwin, director of the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project. “It is deeply troubling that the president is seeking to create a loophole allowing health care providers to deny women access to this basic form of health care.”