Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray met yesterday
with Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to express their
disagreement with proposed HHS regulations that would broaden existing provider
conscience protections. The pair has
been led the Congressional opposition to the new regulations, which would
require federally-funded health care providers to certify that none of its
employees are required to assist with medical services they morally oppose. The Senators asked Leavitt how the final
version of the regulation would prevent patients from losing access to health
care or information. But, according to
Planned Parenthood, Leavitt "failed to respond with any concrete assurances."
"Secretary Leavitt and I had a very frank conversation about
how this rule could create a slippery slope leading to patients being denied
access to contraception and other important information or care," said Sen.
Clinton in a statement. But, as Sen. Murray
added, "While I appreciate the Secretary sitting down with us today, we
received no guarantee that women’s access to contraceptives will be protected
if these rules move forward."
Sens. Clinton and Murray have teamed up on other critical
women’s health issues, including the fight to bring emergency contraception
over the counter. Twenty-eight
senators joined Clinton and Murray in a letter
opposing the regulations on July 22.
Tomorrow is the last
day for public comment on the new regulations.