The Bush administration today announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.Here's the thing that makes this so despicable. It doesn't just protect a health care worker from personally having to deliver services he opposes on so-called moral grounds, it says that he can refuse to even discuss it or offer an alternative doctor or pharmacist who will perform those services. So, in a small town with only a couple of drugstores, a clerk behind the counter can refuse to sell a woman - or even a man - a contraceptive and refuse to tell that person where else he or she can go to buy it.
The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors' offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.
The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women's health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.
"It's breathtaking," said Robyn S. Shapiro, a bioethicist and lawyer at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "The impact could be enormous."
The regulation drops the most controversial language in a draft version that would have explicitly defined an abortion for the first time in a federal law or regulation as anything that interfered with a fertilized egg after conception. But both supporters and critics said the regulation remained broad enough to protect pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others from providing birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraception and other forms of contraception, and explicitly allows workers to withhold information about such services and refuse to refer patients elsewhere.
We're not talking about a late term abortion here. We're talking about anybody being able to deprive a woman of birth control pills or Plan B after being raped. What about her right to prevent a pregnancy? We're talking about de facto outlawing of, not abortion, but BIRTH CONTROL! And that would include birth control for married people.
The truth is 51 to 53 percent of Americans favor a woman's right to have an abortion, especially if her health or life is threatened or if she's raped. Larger percentages favor a woman's right to prevent a pregnancy with the most effective contraceptives available, birth control pills. But every doctor in every small town across America, every pharmacist, can now become his own legislator, taking away from a couple a fundamental right that is guaranteed them by law.
The truth is the conservative Republicans have been unable to outlaw abortion and birth control for years. Every attempt they've made has backfired because the public just doesn't support it. This is their last shot at imposing their fanatical theocratic will on those who don't agree with them theologically. This is nothing more than an attempt to impose their very sectarian religious views on others. Don't be fooled by it.