An Open Letter to Secretary Leavitt
Dear Secretary Leavitt,
I write to you concerning new regulations
your department submitted this last week. Although the latest draft
does not contain the same overt anti-contraception language as the
earlier draft, we in the family planning community still have some
questions and concerns.
We are deeply concerned that the new
rules could infringe on access to family planning services. You
mentioned in your comments that groups might seek to press the
definition of abortion. We know what that means. There are forces at
work that seek to deprive American families of their access to safe and
effective methods of contraception by expanding the definition of
abortion to include these resources.
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Already, groups opposed
to contraception have announced their intention to "press the
definition." Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life, an openly
anti-contraception group, told The Wall Street Journal
that her group would do exactly that. She said it would be excellent if states were deprived of their family planning funding for insisting
on providing contraception. Not abortion, Secretary Leavitt, but
If these rules
are interpreted to include contraception, it would be disastrous for
the millions of Americans that rely on federally-funded health care
providers. Families would have no way to ensure their access to
comprehensive medical services. In a time when there are over 47
million uninsured Americans, we must protect the inalienable right to
choose whether or when to have a child.
Furthermore, these regulations
could interfere with multiple state laws. These are compassionate laws
that do things like require emergency rooms to offer rape victims
emergency contraception so that they need not deal with the added pain
of an unwanted pregnancy. From the far right to the left, we are all
interested in ensuring that children are born to families that are
prepared to care for them while still protecting the rights of health
care professionals. If these rules are extended to contraception, that
goal will become harder to attain.
HHS and the family
planning community have maintained a delicate balance between the
rights of families to access medical services and the consciences of
individual medical service providers. If interpreted incorrectly, these
regulations risk seriously disturbing that equilibrium.
I ask of you, Secretary Leavitt, is to clarify the rules as they are
proposed. Release a statement saying that pressing the definition of
abortion to include contraception is an unacceptable distortion of
these regulations. You can preserve access to comprehensive family
planning with just a few words. Until you take these steps, we have no
choice but to assume contraception was the target all along.
Mary Jane Gallagher
President & CEO, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
This letter was originally posted at FamilyPlanIt.