News Releases

Senators Murray and Clinton Call for Action to Reverse HHS Regulation Limiting Women's Access to Care

Dec 18 2008

After Bush Administration issues 11th hour regulation limiting women's access to care, Murray and Clinton call for action to reverse decision

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) called for action to fight a regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would undermine critical health care services for women and their families.  The HHS regulation would require any health care entity that receives federal financing to certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable. Senators Murray and Clinton have fought the HHS regulation since it was first proposed in July and have introduced legislation to prevent the rule from going into effect. 

“It’s clear that the Bush administration’s assault on health care protections for women will continue up until their very last day in office,” said Senator Murray. “This is the kind of desperate, ideologically-driven politics that helped convince Americans it’s time for change. And under the next administration and Congress, we will reverse this policy and ensure that the health of patients always comes first. I will work with President-elect Obama to explore every possible option to ensure women continue to have access to the health care they need.”

“It is outrageous that the Bush administration has chosen in its final days to undermine health care and jeopardize patients’ rights.  This regulation threatens access to critical health care services and information, while upending the carefully crafted religious protections for patients and providers already in law.  It even allows a provider to refuse care to a patient in an emergency or life-threatening situation.  This ideologically-driven rule cannot stand and it is critical that the next Congress and the new Administration reverse it,” said Senator Clinton.

The senators have worked in the past to stop efforts by the Bush Administration to put in place ideological barriers to women’s health. They successfully led the fight to secure an administration decision on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B emergency contraception after more than three years of Administration delay. Below is a timeline of their efforts to fight the HHS regulation issued today.


  • July 23rd, 2008 – Murray, Clinton lead 28 Senators in initial call to abandon attempt to undermine women’s health
  • August 8th, 2008 – Clinton and Murray call for meeting with HHS Secretary on proposed regulation
  • September 25th, 2008 - Murray, Clinton lead 28 senators in letter urging HHS Secretary to halt proposed rule
  • September 23rd, 2008 – Murray and Clinton Meet with Secretary Leavitt to underscore their serious concerns about a proposed HHS regulation
  • November 20th, 2008 - Clinton and Murray introduce legislation to stop HHS rule