This Is What Leadership Looks Like

Last Thursday, I posted the letter penned by Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray, addressed to Secretary Michael O. Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services in response to the Bush administration proposal re: "conscience clauses" and redefining contraception as abortion.

Today, Clinton published a post at RH Reality Check (and HuffPo) responding to the "outrageous attempt by the Bush Administration to undermine women's rights."
We can't let them get away with this underhanded move to undermine women's health and that's why I am sounding the alarm. These rules pose a serious threat to providers and uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. … The regulations could even invalidate state laws that currently ensure access to contraception for many Americans.
She's also opened a petition to contact Secretary Leavitt, which you can read and sign here.

"This is a gratuitous, unnecessary insult to the women of the United States of America. … It is an end-run around the rights of women to make choices about our own health, and we are not going to stand for it. … We will fight you every step of the way."

Full transcript below. Sign the petition.
The more I learn about these proposed rules by the Bush administration, the more appalled I am and the more determined I am to stop them. This is a gratuitous, unnecessary insult to the women of the United States of America.

These rules pose a dire threat to women's health, to healthcare providers, and to uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. It is a disgrace, but, unfortunately, it is not a surprise. The Bush administration has long put ideology and politics ahead of science and women's health—and it's the women of our country, particularly the low-income and uninsured women, who pay the price.

As soon as I heard about these proposed rules, I joined with my friend and colleague, Senator Patty Murray, in the Senate, and wrote to the Secretary of Health and Human Services urging him formally to reconsider and reject the release of these rules.

I have fought these battles before. Senator Murray and I had to fight with the Bush administration over the course of several years to demand that a decision be made about emergency contraception. We won that fight and we will win this fight as well.

Here's what the Bush administration wants to do: They want to allow healthcare providers to classify many common forms of contraception as abortions and therefore refuse to provide contraception to women who need it, even when the states, like New York, have laws on the books to ensure access to contraception.

So just imagine what this means. Under these proposed rules, health insurance plans could disregard state laws that require covering prescription medications and prescription contraception by claiming that contraception is abortion. Women would watch their contraceptive coverage disappear overnight.

And that's not all.

Imagine that a sexual assault survivor walks into the emergency room, and—in our state, we are one of fourteen states with laws guaranteeing access to emergency contraception, but, under these Bush rules, an ideologically-driven hospital administrator, or an emergency room supervisor, or a doctor or a nurse on duty, could deny this woman access to emergency contraception. So the woman who survived the assault would now be at risk for becoming pregnant, denied the care she needs in her hour of greatest need.

These rules would also build new barriers to counseling, education, contraception and preventive health services for those in need. It is an end-run around the rights of women to make choices about our own health, and we are not going to stand for it.

And, therefore, I am joining my colleagues in the Senate and the House to send a message to the Bush administration: We will fight you every step of the way.

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