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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Government shouldn’t interfere with women’s access to care

On Aug. 21, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it is moving forward with a proposed regulation that, if enacted, would jeopardize women's health care by allowing providers to withhold services and critical information women need to make fully informed decisions about their health care. It also treads on democratically enacted state policies aimed at ensuring access to health care for the state's citizens.

This proposed rule will put women's access to birth control and information needed to make health care decisions at risk.

This politically motivated regulatory change deliberately leaves the term abortion undefined, creating a dangerous space for ideology and political views to override established medical guidelines.

This is a far-reaching rule for two reasons. First, 98 percent of women in the U.S. use some form of contraception during their lifetime. Second, this would affect all the hospitals, clinics, doctor's offices or pharmacies that receives federal funding, directly or indirectly, from HHS - a number HHS puts at nearly 600,000 nationwide.

In Alachua County, 24,490 women need publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Florida already allows for individual providers, institutions and pharmacists to refuse basic health care to women. The proposed HHS rules would further limit women's access to basic health care by creating a federal mandate that would restrict providers receiving HHS funding, create broader definitions of abortion, which allow for more refusals, and make policy reform on this issue at the state level nearly impossible. Women in Florida are already at a loss for their needs. We cannot allow this already poor state of health to get worse.

Access to contraception is basic health care and smart public policy. One in four women in America have visited a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care services.

At a time when so many families are uninsured and under economic assault, the Bush administration is fueling our health care crisis by denying women's access to quality, affordable basic care. That's why Planned Parenthood is fighting for increasing access to health care for all women.

The HHS-proposed regulation is now posted in the federal register, and a 30-day public comment period is underway. It is crucial to tell the Bush administration to keep politics out of the exam room.

Natalie Muniz is the director of education and communications for Planned Parenthood of North Central Florida Inc.

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