Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bite me, DHHS.

No. No no no no no.

HHS Moves to Define Contraception as Abortion

In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception, the birth control 40% of Americans use, as abortion.


Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy accepted by the American Medical Association and our nation's pregnancy experts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is: pregnancy begins at implantation. With this proposal, however, HHS is dismissing medical experts and opting instead to accept a definition of pregnancy based on polling data. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment (there's no test to determine if a woman's egg has been fertilized). Under these new standards there would be no way for a woman to prove she's not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception under HHS' new science.

The other rarely discussed issue here is whether hormonal contraception even does what the religious right claims. 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% 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."

See also Abortion, Birth Control Opponents May Get Federal Protection. Gays, Not So Much

Hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” that they won't discriminate in any way against people or institutions that oppose abortion or some forms of birth control or refuse to perform them. This includes oral contraception and emergency contraception and is apparently an attempt by the radical religious right to classify oral contraception as abortion. Naturally, the Bush administration is eager to help out.

So, the inner city women's clinic employee who refuses to talk to patients about birth control? Can't touch her. The hospital pharmacist who refuses to fill prescriptions for birth control? She can't be fired or disciplined. The doctor who refuses to give emergency contraception to a rape victim for "religious reasons?" Give that man a promotion.

He goes on to mention that this is the administration that doesn't believe in preventing discrimination against homosexuals.

Is it clear enough yet? Is it clear enough yet that you are more important and valuable to the Bush administration before you're born than afterward? Is it clear enough that this administration is not done jerking us around yet?

There's some more information about this at Medical News Today.

Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, said, "The proposed definition of abortion is so broad that it would cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception." She added, "We worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less available to low-income and uninsured women." Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, "Why on earth is the Bush administration trying to discourage doctors and clinics from providing contraception to women who need it?" Christina Pearson, a spokesperson for HHS, declined to discuss the draft rule. "We don't normally comment on whether we are considering changes in regulations," Pearson said (Pear, New York Times, 7/15).
Just no, to all of this.

No. No, no, no.

You need to email some people and even call some people if you can.

First, emails. This page has a tool to email your members of Congress. Pester them to pester everyone else.

And then!

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt
Office Phone: 202-690-7000 or 202-205-4708
Fax: 202-690-7203
Correspondence Secretary: 202-690-6392

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