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Health Professionals Express Outrage at Bush Administration’s Last Minute Attack on Women’s Health

Patients and Providers Both Stand to Suffer Harmful Impact

For Immediate Release
December 19,  2008

Washington, DC - The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), representing more than 11,000 health care providers, researchers, educators, and advocates in the reproductive health field, announced today its outrage over the Bush Administration’s last minute attack on women’s health care access.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule this week under the guise of interpreting existing federal law that allow providers to refuse to perform abortions or sterilizations. In reality, the final rule will compromise women's access to health care information and services. 

“These regulations are not about protecting a provider’s conscience. As health care providers, we already know we cannot be forced to perform a service, for example abortion or sterilization, if it conflicts with our personal belief systems,” Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, chair of the ARHP’s board said.  “This HHS final ruling actually expands existing law inappropriately to mean that health care providers can refuse any service without referring the patient to another provider or even alerting the patient to the fact that they’re being denied one of their health care options.” 

Providers and advocates are also alarmed that the regulations leave the definition of abortion up to the whim of any individual provider or clinical staff member.  This lack of definition, coupled with the fact that an earlier version of the regulations unveiled the Bush Administration’s attempt to define abortion to include some forms of hormonal contraception, is of grave concern.

In August over 200,000 individuals and organizations spoke out in opposition to the rule.  Regardless, the Bush Administration is determined to see these regulations take effect before they leave office, even though they failed to meet a White House directed issuance deadline of June 1, 2008.

Dr. Rodriguez continued, “At this time in history, when access to health care is at its lowest due to the economic crisis and a stressed health care system, the Bush Administration wants to create more barriers for women’s access to care—a truly unconscionable legacy.”


The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) is the leading source for trusted medical education and information on reproductive and sexual health. ARHP educates health care providers, informs consumers, and helps shape public policy. ARHP is a non-profit membership association composed of highly qualified and committed experts in reproductive health. ARHP members are health professionals in clinical practice, education, research, and advocacy and they include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, researchers, educators, pharmacists, and other professionals in reproductive health. To learn more, visit: