Blog Posts

Bush Administration Tries to Redefine Contraception as Abortion

July 16, 2008

The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services is drafting a rule that would place new restrictions on domestic family planning programs. While current law allows health care providers and professionals to refuse to provide abortions based on their religious beliefs, this provision would threaten the funding of organizations and health facilities if they do not hire people who would refuse to provide birth control and defines abortion so broadly that it would include many types of birth control, including oral contraception.

Speaker Pelosi released the following statement on the Administration’s draft proposal:

If the Administration goes through with this draft proposal, it will launch a dangerous assault on women's health.

The majority of Americans oppose this out of touch position that redefines contraception as abortion and represents a sustained pattern of the Bush Administration to reject medical and sound science in favor of a misguided ideology that has no place in our government.

I urge the President to reject this policy and join with Democrats to focus on preventing unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion through increasing access to family planning services and access to affordable birth control.

From Congresswoman Lois Capps, Chair of the Democratic Women's Working Group:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Congresswoman Lois Capps called on the Bush Administration to stop its misguided effort to restrict access to basic family planning services. According to press reports, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is drafting new rules that would severely restrict women's health care options while undermining the ability of health care providers to secure funding and provide essential services. It would require all recipients of federal health care funding to sign a written certification that they will not “discriminate” against health care entities who refuse to provide patients with abortions or even birth control.

“Once again, the Bush Administration is carelessly playing partisan politics with women's health care,” said Capps, a nurse and Vice-Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health. “Time and again this Administration has jeopardized women's access to essential family planning services for purely ideological reasons. Sound science and responsible public health practices should never be trumped by political ideology. This proposal is unnecessary and would be harmful to women's health.”

Federal law already protects individuals who prefer to not participate in abortion services and many states have refusal clauses for either individuals or institutions that object to providing or participating in abortions. The Bush Administration proposal goes far beyond those measures and attempts to define abortion services so broadly that it would include many types of birth control, including oral contraception and emergency contraception. Capps and several of her House colleagues will be sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services objecting to the draft rule and urging the Administration to reconsider its position.

Capps has worked in the past to stop other efforts by the Bush Administration to restrict access to family planning services and contraception. She was part of the successful efforts to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B emergency contraception and also to prevent attempts to restrict funding from certain health providers who provide comprehensive family planning services.