Press Release

Gillibrand Takes Action to Protect Women’s Right to Choose

Apr 9, 2009

Signs Letter in Support of President Obama’s Proposal To Repeal Anti-Choice Rule

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today took action to support President Obama’s proposal to rescind dangerous anti-choice regulation that was instituted in the waning months of the Bush Administration.  The so-called “Conscience Rule” undermines a woman’s right to vital services such as access to emergency contraception and family planning information.  The anti-choice rule takes power away from women and allows certain individuals in the health care industry to refuse to provide any services they feel are contrary to their religious and moral beliefs.
Senator Gillibrand joined with her colleagues to sign a letter to Acting HHS Secretary Charles E. Johnson pledging their support for the agency’s “Rescission Proposal” that would fully reverse this backward and unnecessary regulation.
“Rescinding this regulation in its entirety will ensure that a woman has access to all the information and care that they need,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I applaud the Obama Administration for their quick action to correct a deeply flawed health care policy that is based on ideology and political gamesmanship. I fully support the Rescission Proposal put forth by HHS, so that we can put information back into the hands of women and allow them to make informed decisions about their healthcare options.”
On August 26, 2008, the Bush Administration proposed the regulation comprised of a group of measures that gives sweeping license to entities and individuals who receive funding or reimbursement from HHS or, in some cases, other federal financial assistance, to refuse to provide health care services and information to patients if it conflicts with their religious or moral beliefs. Despite a groundswell of opposition, the Administration published the final regulation on December 19, 2008, making it effective on January 20, 2009, President Obama’s first day in office.
Reproductive-rights advocates, health care providers, religious leaders, and many others worry that vague provisions in the rule could be construed to give a wider range of health care workers the right to deny contraception services and abortion-related referrals or information. It also fails to require that patients even be notified about the services and information their health care providers are refusing to offer. The rule could also disproportionately impact low-income women and others who are more likely to depend on the federal government to receive health care services.
The “Rescission Proposal,” which was published by HHS on March 10, 2009, would reverse the Bush “Conscience Rule” in its entirety, helping to ensure women’s access to critical health care services and information.
Senator Gillibrand believes that a woman’s medical decisions should be made between her, her family and her doctor – not politicians. Her support for reproductive rights has earned her a 100 percent rating from the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL: Pro-Choice America. As a working mother of two, Senator Gillibrand believes in common sense solutions to reduce the number of abortions, such as increased access to medically accurate sex education and affordable contraception.