Roundup: Abortion Proposal Sets Condition on Aid

Brady Swenson

Bush abortion proposal sets condition for federal health funds, Pharmacists refusing birth control "the height of arrogance", PEPFAR amendments to be considered in Senate today, Jon Stewart on McCain, Fiorina, Viagra and birth control.

Bush Abortion Proposal Sets Condition for Federal Health Funds … The New York Times reports in an article quoted here in full:

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.

Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

certification would also be required of state and local governments,
forbidden to discriminate, in areas like grant-making, against
hospitals and other institutions that have policies against providing

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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.

In the
proposal, obtained by The New York Times, the administration says it
could cut off federal aid to individuals or entities that discriminate
against people who object to abortion on the basis of “religious
beliefs or moral convictions.”

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.”

Mary Jane Gallagher,
president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health
Association, which represents providers, said, “The proposed definition
of abortion is so broad that it would cover many types of birth
control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception.”

worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less
available to low-income and uninsured women,” Ms. Gallagher said.

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

Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said, “Why on earth is
the Bush administration trying to discourage doctors and clinics from
providing contraception to women who need it?”

Christina Pearson,
a spokeswoman for the department, declined to discuss the draft. “We
don’t normally comment on whether we are considering changes in
regulations,” she said.

Just in time for the general election.  Looks like the Rovian divide-with-wedge-issues-and-conquer style of politics didn’t leave the Bush Whitehouse with Karl Rove himself.  Rewire will be following this story as it develops.

Denying Birth Control the Height of Arrogance … In perfect segue from the previous story Dan Thomasson of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer opines that pharmacists who refuse to fill women’s birth control prescriptions are exhibiting "unmitigated arrogance."  The Bush administration wants to protect medical professionals from being discriminated against by employers for their beliefs that birth control and abortion are morally wrong while creating the legal justification for discrimination against women who choose to avail themselves of these legal and rightful services.

Thomasson begins: 

A rape victim walks into a pharmacy with a prescription for a morning-after
pill that will terminate a possible pregnancy and is told politely it will not
be filled, and that she must go elsewhere, no matter how inconvenient. That is,
if the pharmacist has the decency even to return the prescription.

The message is clear: Tough luck. If a child has been conceived in the
violation of her body, it is the victim’s sacred duty to have the baby.

Another woman, whose body will not support a pregnancy, submits a
prescription for simple birth control pills and is also rejected. Or a young man
and woman in the throes of hormonal conflict seek a package of condoms but can’t
purchase one, and then end up victims of normal, post-pubescent passion.

Are those and other examples exaggerations? Hardly. They are manifestations
of a real effort by a growing movement of political- and religious-based groups
to withhold access to birth control and anti-abortion measures through
pharmaceutical denial.

And, later, continues: 

Realizing that I am about to bring down the wrath of those who see themselves
as ordained guardians of our morals, I’m going to say it anyway:

What unmitigated arrogance! This kind of sanctimony has no place in a
regulated and necessary business. Those who seek a right to dispense
pharmaceuticals should never be allowed to pick and choose which prescriptions
they honor based on extraneous considerations such as religious convictions or
mere assertions that it violates their own personal codes.

Whether they disapprove of the drug on moral grounds is completely beside the
point. They should follow the doctor’s orders unless they suspect some
irregularity, and that is that. If they can’t agree with that, they should find
another profession.

Senate Scheduled to Vote on PEPFAR Amendments Today … Kaiser Network’s Daily HIV/AIDS Report summarizes the amendments to PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, under consideration today.

Jon Stewart on McCain, Fiorina, Viagra and Birth Control … I was waiting all weekend to see what Jon Stewart and the Daily Show would do with last weeks comedy involving Senator McCain and his advisor Carly Fiorina’s comments that it is unfair for health insruance companies to cover Viagra and not birth control.  It was worth the wait. The bit starts at 4:50:

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