Friday, July 25, 2008

Proposed Regulation Would Endanger Women's Health

Last week, the New York Times reported that the Bush Administration is considering a new regulation which would require any health care provider that receives funding from the Department from Health and Human Services to not engage in "discrimination." In this case "discrimination" means refusing to hire people who oppose abortion or hormonal birth control. Planned Parenthood is an organization who would be affected by such a rule. See the problem yet? In short, the regulation would allow anti-choice individuals sabatoge women's health care, whether purposely or not -- and refusing to do one's job could not be grounds for firing that person.

As discussed previously on this blog, it's very dangerous to allow individuals to decide for women which health care they should and should not be able to obtain. It places women at risk -- particularly those who are low-income or from rural areas, and/or who lack the time and resources to go to more than one provider. Putting an individual provider's personal beliefs above the right of a woman to access medical care is irresponsible and unacceptable.

But the proposed regulation is insidious in other ways -- it in fact attempts to redefine abortion to include some of the most commonly used birth control methods. This the definition of abortion from the proposed rule:
Abortion: An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are two commonly held views on the question of when a pregnancy begins. Some consider a pregnancy to begin at conception (that is, the fertilization of the egg by the sperm), while others consider it to begin with implantation (when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus). A 2001 Zogby International American Values poll revealed that 49 percent of Americans believe that human life begins at conception. Presumably many who hold this belief think that any action that destroys human life after conception is the termination of a pregnancy, and so would be included in their definition of the term "abortion." Those who believe pregnancy begins at implantation believe the term "abortion" only includes the destruction of a human being after it has implanted in the lining of the uterus.
In other words, the proposal would use polls -- which were probably not designed for participants to have the potential impact of their answer in mind -- to decide rules for the health care establishment, rather than science. The rule goes even farther in rejecting medical facts by ignoring the lack of evidence that contraception even prevents implantation:
There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40 percent of the birth control methods Americans use, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification "abortion." Even the "pro-life" movement's most respected physicians cautioned the movement about making these claims.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray have already joined Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations in speaking out against the proposed rule. You can join them by signing a petition on Clinton's website. Additionally, you can write President Bush a letter through Planned Parenthood Federation of America's website, asking him to abandon this dangerous affront to women's health.

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