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White House Considering Contraception Restrictions

August 11, 2008

St. Paul, MN – Advocates for Minnesota teens say they're concerned about a rule change being considered by the White House that they're convinced would limit access to birth control, at least for some. Brigid Riley, executive director of the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting says it would make contraceptives less readily available to low-income and uninsured women.

"The Bush Administration is trying to put through a new regulation that would redefine when conception occurs and, through that, make illegal many types of birth control that Minnesotans are using."

As Riley explains it, the proposal suggests a new, broader definition of "abortion" that would include the use of birth control pills. She believes that if the regulation is adopted, it will have long-term consequences, particularly for those who rely on federal health programs.

"The birth control pill, the IUD and emergency contraception might all become unavailable – illegal – as a result, because of the change in definition of when pregnancy begins. It would redefine a pregnancy to begin at conception. With decreased access to contraception and emergency contraception, we would see increased numbers of unplanned pregnancies."

Under the proposal, hospitals, researchers and medical schools would have to provide written certification of compliance with the rule as a funding requirement for any program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Bush Administration says the new requirement is designed to make sure health care providers can't discriminate against their employees who object to abortion for religious or moral reasons.

More information about the controversy is online, at
www.nationalpartnership.org.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN