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Gov. Rendell Expresses Disappointment with Bush Administration's Last-Minute Regulation Limiting Patient Care
Date:1/5/2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell expressed disappointment today that President Bush and his administration -- now in their waning days -- would push forward a regulation that could compromise patient care and limit a woman's access to medical treatments.

"I'm very disappointed that the Bush administration pushed forward this midnight regulation that establishes a 'refusal clause' rule that could have serious, detrimental impacts on patient care and women's reproductive rights," said Governor Rendell.

"If a woman is raped or is the victim of sexual assault, this regulation allows health care workers to victimize them again by denying treatment. For women living in rural areas, that could mean driving 60 miles to another health care provider for treatment.

"I strongly encourage President-elect Barack Obama to repeal the regulation as soon as possible after taking office on Jan. 20."

Under the regulation, which was published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Federal Register, health care providers could refuse to give a patient a full range of options for medical procedures or treatment if the provider objects to a particular course of action on moral or religious grounds.

For instance, a health worker could refuse to inform women of their reproductive rights and could refuse to provide contraceptive services, including emergency contraception, to victims of rape or sexual abuse.

The commonwealth submitted written comments questioning the need for the regulation as federal and state laws have been in place for approximately 30 years that are similar to the regulation.

Pennsylvania also found that the federal regulation had broad and vague definitions that would lead to confusion regarding provider conscience protections. The commonwealth asked that the regulation be withdrawn or revised before final
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
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