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325,000+ SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE: BIRTH CONTROL IS NOT ABORTION

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 08.21.08

Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org Supporters Tell Bush Not to Jeopardize Women’s Health

Washington, DC — The Planned Parenthood Action Fund and MoveOn.org Political Action hand delivered more than 325,000 signatures to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt today sending a clear message that birth control is not abortion.  Signers of an emergency petition, circulated by both groups, demanded that the Bush administration table its draft regulation change that would redefine abortion to include birth control and severely limit women’s access to basic health care.  An administrative regulation change would require no congressional approval.

“The Bush administration's draft regulation change would allow health care providers to withhold critical information from their patients,” said Ellen Golombek, vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  “This politically motivated regulatory change deliberately confuses contraception — that is, birth control — with abortion, putting political agendas ahead of patients’ needs and jeopardizing American women's access to contraception.  Let’s be clear:  birth control is not abortion.”

The American Medical Association and the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians publicly oppose this draft regulation.  Fifty-seven medical, public health, religious, advocacy, and research groups, including Planned Parenthood, sent a letter to Secretary Leavitt strongly opposing the draft regulation change.  In addition, nearly 150 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have signed letters urging the Bush administration to reject this draft HHS regulation change.

"For the Bush administration to quietly try to redefine 'abortion' to include birth control, and use that change to threaten laws protecting women and rape survivors, shows how completely out-of-touch Republican leadership has become," said Ilyse Hogue, spokesperson for MoveOn.org Political Action. "Over 325,000 Americans are standing strong to make clear: birth control is NOT abortion."

In 2005, a pharmacist in St. Charles, IL, refused to fill petition-signer Megan Kelly’s birth control prescription. “It’s disheartening to think other women could face the shock and embarrassment I did by having a pharmacist say they won’t fill a birth control prescription,” Kelly said.  She became a tireless advocate for an Illinois law that ensures patients’ prescriptions are filled.  “At the time, I didn’t know whether to cry or get angry and I can’t believe I have to have this conversation all over again.”

Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org are committed to making sure the Bush administration hears the message from people like Megan Kelly:  birth control is not abortion. For more information on the draft regulation change and the growing opposition click here.

*PHOTO AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST*

Comments from petition-signers:

“Please, please, please treat women with dignity and empathy. These medications that comprise many contraceptives are life saving for women. Allow women to take care of themselves by taking care of their health and their families.”
— Rosemary C.  
Arlington, VA

“This would be an absolute tragedy... please protect the rights of ALL women.”
— Kelley M.      
Mystic, CT

“As a mother of one completely planned and wanted child, I feel strongly that the lifelong role of parent is not one that should be encouraged without ample forethought. I do not consider birth control to be abortion. I do consider intelligent and thoughtful family planning important to the future of the planet.” 
— Cheryl J.        
Topsham, ME

“Shame on those trying to take away a woman’s choice in reproductive health. Choosing not wanting to get pregnant and being responsible enough to get birth control for it should be applauded not regarded as a negative issue.”
— Teri S.
North Liberty, IA

“Please do not take such regressive steps, putting women in such an oppressive situation. The struggle for women’s suffrage should not be set back in this manner. One hundred years of work toward equality is too much to lose!”
— Nancy P.
Brookline, VT

“Dear Mr. Leavitt: I know this is politics but this issue should not be held hostage by political maneuverings. Can you imagine being a rape victim who would not be able to get emergency contraception...how would you feel...how would you feel if it were your wife, daughter, friend? This ruling is not only unfair and scientifically wrong, it is barbaric...is this the best our government came come up with in the 21st century? If it is, shame on us.”
— Emily J.
Nashville, TN

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.