Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Hails Move To Rescind Rule Endangering Women's Health Rights, Including Birth Control Access

February 27, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal praised President Obama's administration for moving to rescind a new federal rule that gravely jeopardizes women's access to vital medical services, including birth control.

Blumenthal, on behalf of Comptroller Nancy Wyman and Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, sued last month to block the Bush administration's midnight regulation because it undercuts Connecticut's contraception laws and jeopardizes billions of dollars in federal public health money.

The lawsuit, joined by seven other states, alleges that this Provider Conscience Rule violates federal law, women's rights and states' sovereign rights to enforce their own laws.

Blumenthal's lawsuit will continue until the rule rescission process is complete, which could take several months.

"Dismantling this dangerous rule is a historic step toward preserving profoundly significant health care rights for women, and vital constitutional rights for all," Blumenthal said. "We will continue to pursue our legal fight until this Provider Conscience Rule is finally and safely stopped.

"The Obama administration is wisely and rightly recognizing that this rule could deny countless women access to emergency contraceptive care and other care without adequate information and alternatives. At stake are carefully crafted and balanced state measures like Connecticut's protecting patients and women, particularly rape victims who may require immediate access to emergency contraceptive care. The Bush administration, on its way out the door, took a final and unconscionable swipe at these critical rights by establishing a last-minute midnight rule.

"Until officially rescinded, this rule endangers women's health care -- perniciously shrouding the term abortion in new and unnecessary ambiguity and encouraging each individual to define it and possibly deny virtually all forms of contraception, even emergency contraception to rape victims. Individual beliefs should be respected, but should not determine whether vital health care is available."

Wyman said, "President Obama is making an important stand for all women by rescinding this backdoor attempt to erode two decades of progress on protecting a woman's right to choose.

"His action makes it clear that this administration believes, as I do, that decisions about contraception should be made by a woman without the interference of government regulation or the objections of an individual health care provider."

Lembo said, "We thank the President for his quick action to reverse a regulation designed to erect barriers to healthcare. When healthcare consumers purchase insurance they expect to receive care from providers without substantial obstacles put in their paths. The President is also taking the right step by eliminating a potential barrier to the billions in federal funds Connecticut needs to shore up its healthcare safety net. The conscience regulation would have undermined the $1.3 billion in Medicaid stimulus money targeted for Connecticut over the next three years."