Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bush Admin takes further steps to erode Womens' Rights

If it wasn't enough for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt to appoint Dr. Eric Keroack as the Deputy Asst Secretary for Population Affairs which oversees Title X, now he's taken it upon himself to interject his personal religious beliefs to redefine "abortion" in an attempt to deny contraception to women and make it the law of the land.

Dr. Keroack believes that the use of birth control is 'degrading to women,' and wrongly defines birth control as 'abortifacients.' [WP] He also believes that premarital sex damages the female brain, making non-abstinent women incapable of forming emotional bonds. [Raw Story] Yet, this is the man who Secretary Leavitt recommended to President Bush to oversee the nation's family planning grants as well as oversee programs related to women's health (e.g., cervical and breast cancer screening). Hello?!?!?! Dr. Keroack may have resigned from the HHS on March 29, 2007, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out who probably helped Secretary Leavitt draft his proposed regulation.

The draft could still be revised or rejected. Or, the administration could enact it at any point; no congressional approval is needed. While the next elected President could overturn the regulation, if he's so disposed, it's not something I personally would like to see put in place in the first place. Here's what others are saying about the draft regulation:
  • From the Chicago Tribune: HHS proposal fuels birth-control debate ... "(HHS) is reviewing a draft regulation that would deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, intrauterine devices and the Plan B emergency contraceptive."
  • From the Wall Street Journal: Treating the Pill as Abortion, Draft Regulation Stirs Debate ... "The draft also extends the conscience objection to most staff members and volunteers working for health-care providers. So, for instance, an employer couldn't punish a clinic receptionist for refusing to make appointments for patients seeking birth-control pills."
  • From Clarksville Online (Clarksville, TN): Proposed HHS regulation could impact accessibility to birth control ... “One of the most troubling aspects of the proposed rules is the overly-broad definition of “abortion.” This definition would allow health-care corporations or individuals to classify many common forms of contraception – including the birth control pill, emergency contraception and IUDs – “abortions” and therefore to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it.” - Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray in a joint letter to HHS
  • From Reproductive Health Reality Check: HHS Moves to Define Contraception 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."
  • From Medical News Today: Washington Post, WSJ Examine Reaction to Draft HHS Rule that could limit Birth Control Access ... "Susan Wood, a professor at George Washington University, who resigned from FDA over the agency's handling of emergency contraception, said that the proposed rule is "another example of this administration's disregard for science and medicine in how agencies make decisions.""
  • From OB/GYNs With Objections To Abortion Should Not Have To Refer Patients To Other Doctors ... "HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt wrote a letter to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), stating that providers with moral objections to abortion should have no obligation to refer patients."
  • From Reproductive Health Reality Check: Title X in Jeopardy from Anti-Abortion, er, Anti-Contraception Groups ... "The Family Research Council, backed by an unknown group of 80 anti-contraception groups, has sent a letter to President Bush urging him to make federal funding for family planning centers - Title X funding - more restrictive."
  • From the Huffington Post: Going to the Slammer with your IUD ... "HHS is validating the extreme right-to-life position that the pill and the IUD cause abortions by saying that "Both definitions of pregnancy inform medical practice.""
  • Hillary Clinton in the Huffington Post: An Outrageous Attempt by the Bush Administration to Undermine Women's Rights ... "These rules pose a serious threat to providers and uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. They could prevent providers of federally-funded family planning services, like Medicaid and Title X, from guaranteeing their patients access to the full range of comprehensive family planning services."
  • Ellen Feldman in the Huffington Post: Bush Marches Ahead into the Past ... "The recent regulations proposed by the Bush administration's Health and Human Services officials, if put into play, would not only send the administration out in a blaze of shame and vindictiveness toward women throughout the country, but also turn the clock back a full century."

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