Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nice Frame You Got There

The news is out: President Obama is going to rescind the midnight oil executive order issued by President Bush to protect the jobs of those health workers who refuse to provide care which violates their religious tenets. Of course, the order was designed to make abortion and access to contraception even more difficult, but the Bush administration and its base-base supporters preferred to cast the argument in terms of preserving the religious freedom of a certain group of employees. It's pretty hard to argue against religious freedom in this country, which is why the frame was selected. It's an old tactic, one that the Religious Reich adopted when it designated its stance as "Pro-Life" rather than anti-abortion or anti-choice.

Unfortunately, it's the same frame adopted in this article in the Washington Post.

The Obama administration's move to rescind broad new job protections for health workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable triggered an immediate political storm yesterday, underscoring the difficulties the president faces in his effort to find common ground on anything related to the explosive issue of abortion.

The administration's plans, revealed quietly with a terse posting on a federal Web site, unleashed a flood of heated reaction, with supporters praising the proposal as a crucial victory for women's health and reproductive rights, and opponents condemning it as a devastating setback for freedom of religion.

Why, in light of Roe v Wade, is there even any discussion of the issue? Well, conservatives of a certain stripe still haven't accepted the law of the land. (They also haven't accepted science either, so that fits the profile.) The whole point of Roe is that a woman is entitled to privacy and that includes the right to choose not to bear a child. It's her decision.

Bush's last minute order went even further than the abortion issue, however. Broadly drafted, it could easily be applied to family counseling and to information on birth control.

Women's health advocates, family-planning proponents, abortion rights activists and others condemned the regulation, saying it created a major obstacle to providing many health services, including family planning and infertility treatment, and possibly a wide range of scientific research. After reviewing the regulation, newly appointed officials at the Health and Human Services Department agreed.

"We've been concerned that the way the Bush rule is written, it could make it harder for women to get the care they need," said an HHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the same reason. "It is worded so vaguely that some have argued it could limit family-planning counseling and even potentially blood transfusions and end-of-life care."

Bush screwed the order up by painting it so broadly, but that ignores the argument that women have the right to choose. That is central to the argument and all the harumphing about providers' religious freedoms is just nonsense. If a nurse or doctor is opposed to abortion, then they shouldn't work at a hospital or clinic which provides it. If a pharmacist believes the morning after pill or the birth control pill is of the devil, he shouldn't work at a pharmacy which dispenses them. I am opposed to the death penalty, which is why I never considered working for the District Attorney's office. It's not that hard a decision, folks.

WaPo's article, however, dwelt at length, at great length, on the religious freedom aspect. I didn't count the words, but my impression is that direct and indirect quotes from the Religious Reich far outnumbered those from family planning and choice advocates. The picture on the online version of the story is not of President Obama, nor the president of any family planning group. It is of The Rev. Joel Hunter, an anti-choice religious leader Obama has tapped to serve on his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. And the article leans heavily on the "religious freedom" frame.

It also reiterates the old "let's find some common ground" meme in an area in which it simply does not apply. Just as one is either pregnant or not pregnant, one either has reproductive freedom or one does not.

I guess that's what WaPo's idea of "fair and balanced" is.


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Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Whatever happened to that relatively liberal paper they used to have in DC? Musta closed, hunh?

If these wingnut healthcare folks wanna go their own way, they should pay for their own medical educations 100%, at institutions that receive NO government funding or tax breaks, and then go work in facilities that do the same: No Medicare or Medicaid, either.

We need to give these people their own little country. Maybe that chunk of Antarctica that's breaking off. They're not worried about that, so it should work out just fine. Tell 'em it's "God's Country."

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hrm...should a Christian Scientist be allowed to attend medical school and then refuse to treat patients?

Should a vegetarian waitress be permitted to refuse to serve meat dishes to patrons?

Should a Church Amish person be allowed to work in a garage and then refuse to service customers' cars?

If you have a moral objection to a particular profession, FIND SOME OTHER LINE OF WORK.


That wasn't too difficult, was it?

9:14 AM  

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