Thursday, July 31, 2008

Through The Back Door

Today's Washington Post has a rather lengthy article about a proposed new Department of Health and Human Services regulation. The regulation purports to be one that protects the rights of workers who object to providing services which run counter to their religious beliefs.

The Department of Health and Human Services 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, IUDs and the Plan B emergency contraceptive.

Conservative groups, abortion opponents and some members of Congress are welcoming the initiative as necessary to safeguard doctors, nurses and other health workers who, they say, are increasingly facing discrimination because of their beliefs or are being coerced into delivering services they find repugnant.

Now, my advice to these tender-hearted employees would be the same I gave to a friend (a Quaker) who had been offered a dream high-tech job with a defense contractor. "If you are appalled at the product offered by that company, don't work for them." That's a bit callous, I admit, but I think it an honest bit of advice.

The Religious Reich is obviously not satisfied by my call for personal integrity. Those people won't be happy until all women go back to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. And the kicker in this proposed regulation proves my point. Buried within the regulation is this bit of non-science:

There is also deep concern that the rule could have far-reaching, but less obvious, implications. Because of its wide scope and because it would -- apparently for the first time -- define abortion in a federal regulation as anything that affects a fertilized egg, the regulation could raise questions about a broad spectrum of scientific research and care, critics say.

"The breadth of this is potentially immense," said Robyn S. Shapiro, a bioethicist and lawyer at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "Is this going to result in a kind of blessed censorship of a whole host of areas of medical care and research?"

Critics charge that the proposal is the latest example of the administration politicizing science to advance ideological goals. ...

"This is causing a lot of distress," said one NIH researcher who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. "It's a redefinition of abortion that does not match any of the current medical definitions. It's ideologically based and not based on science and could interfere with the development of many new therapies to treat diseases."

Since a copy of the document leaked earlier this month, outside advocates and scientists have voiced growing alarm that the regulation could inhibit research in areas including stem cells, infertility and even such unrelated fields as cancer....

The most controversial section defines abortion as "any of the various procedures -- including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action -- that results in the termination of life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."
[Emphasis added]

And that's what this is all about: redefining abortion in such a wide fashion that almost any form of birth control is in jeopardy.


173 days.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home