Bush Administration Promotes Discriminatory Practices Related To Birth Control

From the New York Times:

The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. […]

The proposal, which circulated in the department on Monday, says the new requirement is needed to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.” The administration said Congress had passed a number of laws to ensure that doctors, hospitals and health plans would not be forced to perform abortions.

This reference to not supporting coercive or discriminatory practices is interesting since the proposed change would explicitly allow medical providers to morally coerce patients and to discriminate against girls and women who want or need a service or a prescription which they are allowed to have by law.

I don’t believe the Bush administration truly believes in their rationale for this proposed change. If they did then employment rules would apply to all areas where people don’t want to perform certain tasks for moral reasons.

Think about the government contractors who have faced allegations of taking actions which show no respect for human life.

Blackwater guards have been accused of shooting innocent bystanders in a systematic pattern of overly aggressive response to threats — real or imagined. KBR has faced accusations related to rape committed by their employees and they have been accused of performing faulty work which resulted in 13 soldiers being electrocuted while showering because of ungrounded wiring.

If their employees are asked to perform a task they see as immoral they should be able to refuse to do that task with the federal government’s full and explicit protection.

Despite congressional hearings about the conduct of various defense contractors I have not seen any proposal by the Bush administration designed to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.”

Apparently the only morals which the Bush administration recognizes is the one which opposes abortion and birth control. Otherwise, those who work for an organization which gets federal money have no right to bring their morals to their jobs.

This proposal’s hiring section seems designed specifically to allow people to apply for jobs they don’t want to do per the job description, but which they don’t want others to do either. The goal then of this proposal is to help people and organizations deny patients their legal rights.

The proposal defines abortion as follows: “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 the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.” […]

Indeed, among other things the proposal expresses concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who request it.

How dare states ensure rape victims are given their legal rights! Don’t those states know that pregnancy through rape is a gift from God?

This concern about state laws reveals that while the Bush administration supports states rights to restrict abortions, they do not support states rights to permit abortions or even birth control. States either have the right to pass laws and constitutional amendments on a particular matter or they don’t.

This proposal is therefore based on nothing more than the desire to deny people their legal rights — even rape victims. Any framing which makes this proposal one that does nothing except protect people’s rights is a lie.

Unfortunately, this deceptive packaging too often works on people who see the PR which focuses on values and who have learned to dismiss critics as being radicals who don’t care about other people’s rights.

This value message is contradicted by the decreased value of life used by the EPA.

When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted. […]

The EPA made the changes in two steps. First, in 2004, the agency cut the estimated value of a life by 8 percent. Then, in a rule governing train and boat air pollution this May, the agency took away the normal adjustment for one year’s inflation. Between the two changes, the value of a life fell 11 percent, based on today’s dollar.

So the adminstration which markets itself as pro-life has discounted the value of all American lives. If it the effects of pollution rather than birth control which prevents a woman from carrying to term that’s not a problem.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray jointly issued a press release on Wednesday expressing their opposition to this proposal.

Hat tip: Safer


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17 Responses to Bush Administration Promotes Discriminatory Practices Related To Birth Control

  1. Rebecca says:

    Ugh. Given that 5/6 of fertilized eggs don’t implant at all, it’s ridiculous that they should be using this unscientific definition of pregnancy as beginning at conception.

    (I wonder if this reasoning could be applied to doctors and abortion proviers who find it morally abhorrent to read off the administrated-mandated false information to their patients? Thou shalt not bear false witness, after all.)

  2. Rebecca says:

    Ugh. Given that 5/6 of fertilized eggs don’t implant at all, it’s ridiculous that they should be using this unscientific definition of pregnancy as beginning at conception.

    (I wonder if this reasoning could be applied to doctors and abortion proviers who find it morally abhorrent to read off the administration-mandated false information to their patients? Thou shalt not bear false witness, after all.)

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  4. amandaw says:

    It’s not just contraception. Nearly every prescription drug I can think of would at least skirt the line of this definition, and most of those have *nothing to do* with family planning, at all. If this became the bright line, life would be very much changed for a vast group of people in this country. All women, of course.

  5. Because anti-choicers hate birth control, they don’t use it. And because they don’t use it, it only makes sense that they’ve fertilized more eggs/had more of their eggs fertilized than those who use birth control. And because most fertilized eggs never become pregnancies for whatever reason (sometimes unintentionally through the woman’s actions), most of those fertilized eggs were flushed away with the woman’s period. So doesn’t that mean that, under this definition of abortion, anti-choicers have already had abortions — and more of them — than pro-choicers?

  6. Rebecca says:

    “..explicitly allow medical providers to morally coerce patients and to discriminate against girls and women who want or need a service or a prescription which they are allowed to have by law…” I HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT. I THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO PROTECT THOSE IN THE HEALTH CARE FIELD FROM BEING FORCED TO PROVIDE SERVICES THAT THEY ARE AGAINST FOR MORAL AND/OR RELIGIOUS REASONS. JUST AS WOMEN HAVE A RIGHT TO CHOOSE, PEOPLE WORKING IN THIS PROFESSION SHOULD ALSO HAVE A RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHETHER THEY WILL PROVIDE OR NOT PROVIDE CONTRACEPTION AND/OR ABORTION. Think about it. A patient can always find another doctor who is pro-choice. If they don’t want morality shoved down their throat, then, they should just go somewhere else for care like Planned Parenthood. However, the physician who does not agree with prescribing contraception or doing abortions may have their job in jeopardy if these safeguards are not in place. Plus, I don’t think they would morally coerce any patient to do anything they don’t want to do, although, in my experience, doctors have tried to STRONGLY persuade me to get on the Pill. I hear the rhetoric on a woman’s right to choose….so it’s my right to choose what I want to do to my body and I don’t want to use birth control so don’t shove contraception down my throat please.) I’ve done my research on contraception and abortion, and I’ve found it to have mostly negative consequences for women, physically and psychologically. Not only that, it’s a grave insult to me as a woman. Please go out there and research both sides of the issue!!

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  8. Marcella Chester says:

    Rebecca wrote: “I HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT. I THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO PROTECT THOSE IN THE HEALTH CARE FIELD FROM BEING FORCED TO PROVIDE SERVICES THAT THEY ARE AGAINST FOR MORAL AND/OR RELIGIOUS REASONS.”

    With the provision about hiring included in this proposal, any talk about this proposal simply preventing medical staff from being forced is invalid. Don’t want to provide services which are part of a particular job? Apply for a job where those services aren’t an expected part of the job.

    If someone is a landlord, they either follow fair housing laws or they should get into another line of work.

    In medicine there are plenty of areas where staff would never be asked to do anything related to birth control or abortions.

    A rape victim who goes to the hospital should not ever be required to shop for someone who will provide emergency contraceptives. As a victim advocate I’ve been in the ER when rape victims have been offered EC and the choice to have or not have EC was totally up to the patient with no pressure applied either way.

    If you would never choose an abortion or any form of birth control that is your right. Giving everyone their legal rights when it comes to abortion and birth control is not shoving it down your throat.

    You say that medical personel will not coerce patients but then relate being presssured by doctors to make a birth control decision you didn’t want to make. That doesn’t disprove my point, it reinforces it.

  9. Charity says:

    By the way, there is now a link to sign a petition to Sec. Leavitt supporting Clinton / Murray…it would be awesome if you could add it to the post as an update, or something else to call attention to it!

    The petition: http://www.hillpac.com/action/hhspetition/

    I found it at Shakesville via this post:

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/07/this-is-what-leadership-looks-like.html

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  11. Rebecca (6th post), “Go somewhere else” is not always an option for women, especially if they live in rural areas or have certain insurance plans that don’t cover contraception. As it is, many women travel 50-100 miles to get an abortion, because 80% of US counties have no abortion provider. Women should have plenty of doctors to choose from when getting such personal healthcare. We shouldn’t have to go from one doctor to another to another to another because they refuse to do part of the job that they were hired to do. If you don’t want to prescribe birth control or perform abortions, don’t become the kind of doctor that does that. It’s really very simple. Just like I don’t want to perform cosmetic surgery, I’m not going to become a cosmetic surgeon. According to the logic of this new rule, I should be able to become a cosmetic surgeon, not do the job based on my moral values, and still rake in the dough. That’s completely unfair.

    Also, you are making a sweeping generalization when you say that, because of your limited research, abortion and contraception are bad for women. There are women who are happy with their decision to have an abortion or contraceptives, and there are women who regret that decision. Everybody’s different. Pro-choicers don’t advocate for anything more than the right for women to make their own personal decisions about family planning. I would rather a woman regret having an abortion or using contraceptives than not having a say in the matter at all. Regret is a possible consequence of making a choice. If you don’t want to ever regret anything again, simply let someone else make your decisions for you. Is that what you want for women? That might save women from regretting anything, but it completely strips away their humanity.

  12. Rebecca (liberal!Rebecca) says:

    Whoa, dude, someone else with my name.

    One difference would be that pharmacists and women’s clinic workers enter that profession with the knowledge that they will be expected to, y’know, dispense medicines and provide women’s health services. If providing those services is against one’s religion, one should, obviously, not enter that profession. My usual example is that of an Orthodox Jew or Hindu expecting not to be fired for refusing to handle burgers at a McDonalds.

    I agree that your doctor shouldn’t try to “force” birth control on you, but the situation isn’t parallel: you are not obliged to take it, whereas in cases where pharmacists won’t provide birth control that has already been prescribed, the woman cannot just take it from behind the counter.

    Likewise, even if BC has harmful effects on some women, this is no reason to stop others who want it from getting it.

    It’s not about obliging everyone to take birth control and have abortions. It’s about the choice to begin, end, or carry to term a pregnancy.

    (Your other points have already been dealt with by other commenters, I believe.)

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  14. Stop The Craziness says:

    #6 Rebecca: It’s a grave insult to me that I must read crazy talk from the likes of you. Please respect my rights to a sane environment…go elsewhere to discuss your problem with doctors trying to “strongly persuade” you to take contraception pills. Hmmm, maybe there’s a good reason for that. One more thing…STOP SHOUTING VIA CAPS.

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