HHS Will Revise Bush Reproductive Health Rule

The Health and Human Services Department will revise a controversial regulation finalized under the Bush administration. The rule, which took effect Jan. 20, gives health care providers the right to refuse to provide women with access to or information about reproductive health services, if the provider objects on moral or religious grounds. It is sometimes called the provider conscience rule.

Yesterday, HHS sent the White House Office of Management and Budget a draft of whatever revision it has come up with. The Washington Post has the full scoop:

The administration took the step because the regulation was so broadly written that it could provide protections to health-care workers who object not only to abortion but also to a wide range of health-care services, said the HHS official, who asked not to be named because the process had just begun.

"We've been concerned that the way the Bush rule is written it could make it harder for women to get the care they need. It is worded so vaguely that some have argued it could limit family planning counseling and even potentially blood transfusions and end-of-life care," the official said.

After the 30-day comment period, the regulation could be lifted entirely or it could be modified to make the protections more specific, the official said.

"We support a tightly written conscience clause. We recognize and understand that some providers have objections about abortion, and we want to make sure that current law protects them," the official said. "We want to be thoughtful about this."


back to Blog