Friday, August 22, 2008

Bush's Parting Gift

It’s seemingly not enough that President Bush signed the first federal ban on abortion, appointed two Supreme Court Justices dedicated to weakening the protections of Roe v. Wade, and provided millions of dollars for failed abstinence-only education. Now, in the waning days of his administration, President Bush has offered up a rule that would let health care providers put their personal beliefs above their patients’ medical needs. So much for patient-centered care.

In an age where millions of people need access to health care, including reproductive health care, only this administration would formulate away to prevent women from receiving needed services. The proposed rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from hundreds of thousands of 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.

Although the proposed language specifically mentions abortion and sterilization, it does not define either procedure, leaving the open the possibility that anti-choice individuals could refuse to prescribe or provide birth control as well as a broad range of services. So, not only is abortion under attack, but family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research are also under threat.

For years there have been laws on the books that balanced health care providers’ religious beliefs in a way that accommodated patients’ needs. Formulating a solution in search of a problem, the Bush Administration has taken a non-issue to an illogical extreme, limiting the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate health information about abortion and contraception. Because what they’ve done in the last 7 and a half years to weaken women’s reproductive rights hasn’t been enough.

We will not and cannot stand for this outrageous attack. Politics should not trump women’s health care needs. Please join us in speaking out – the regulations are open for comment for 30 days, but then could become law, radically altering the landscape of women’s access to reproductive health care.

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