There are 188 days left in the Bush administration, and it is becoming painfully clear that if George W. cannot end the war, or boost the economy, he'll sure as hell make it his mission to chip away at Roe vs. Wade. As Reuters reports, a leaked Department Of Health and Human Services memo describes a plan to cut off federal funds to states, hospitals and clinics that discriminate against employees who refuse to offer birth control or abortions on religious or moral grounds. As if that weren't bad enough, the proposal redefines all birth control as abortion. According to Reuters, in the memo, the HHS draft "proposes to define abortion as 'any of the various procedures — including the prescription and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."
Reuters adds that the Department of Health and Human Services would not verify the contents of the widely-circulated memo, "but noted their responsibility to protect against discrimination of doctors and pharmacists who object to abortion or birth control on religious or moral grounds."
Pro-choice organizations and women all over the country are understandably up in arms over this. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, asks the New York Times, "Why on earth is the Bush administration trying to discourage doctors and clinics from providing contraception to women who need it?" Good question! Apparently, they're peeved over recent state laws, like Connecticut's 2007 legislation requiring hospitals to distribute Plan B to rape victims, and according to Reuters, the proposal was "specifically designed to counter" those laws. How convenient for Republicans to be in favor of states rights…for everything except a woman's right to choose!
And speaking of Republicans, NARAL's blog notes that while John McCain has yet to comment on this specific proposal, he has voted against choice 125 times in the Senate. It's obvious that the Bush administration will stand behind the straw man of "religious freedom" when defending this proposal, but if it's so concerned with religious freedom, why does this law only apply to birth control? Some Christian Scientists are against using modern medicine. So, by this logic, it would be discrimination to not hire a Christian Scientist because he or she refused to dole out insulin for diabetes, or declined to give a cancer patient chemo? Exactly. The only discrimination here is against a woman's right to choose.
Family Planning Groups Object To Abortion Plan [Reuters]
Abortion Proposal Sets Condition On Aid [NYT]
Another Day, Another Dangerous (Proposed) Bush Regulation [NARAL]