Roundup: Responses To the HHS Proposal

Brady Swenson

Family planning groups and NY Rep. Nita Lowey respond to the HHS proposal that would limit access to contraception for women, AMA apologizes for history of racial inequality, WaPo article on homosexuality and youth.

Family Planning Groups Respond to Bush Plan to Define Birth Control as Abortion … Reuters reports on the reactions to the revelation yesterday of a rule proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services to classify some forms of birth control, including the pill and IUDs, as abortion, The rule would effectively give medical professionals the legal right to refuse to prescribe or dispense contraception to women and also remove federal funding from organizations providing subsidized contraception to low income women. 

"This proposed rule will put women’s access to birth control and the
information they need to make health care decisions at risk," Cecile
Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said
in a statement.

"As a result, women’s ability to manage their own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology."

A copy of a memo that appears to be an HHS draft provided to Reuters, carries a broad definition of abortion.

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"The Department proposes to define abortion as ‘any of the various
procedures — including the prescription 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,’"
it said. 

New York Rep. Nita Lowey released a statement in reaction to news of the proposal that condemns the rule as a federal attempt to trump states in the area of contraception access: 

The proposed rule is specifically designed to counter recent state
laws enacted to ensure that women can get contraception when they want
or need it.

"Despite the fact that several conscience statutes protecting health
care entities from discrimination have been in existence for decades,
recent events suggest the public and people in the health care industry
are largely uninformed of the protections," the draft reads.

"In May 2007, Connecticut passed a law requiring all hospitals to
distribute Plan B to rape victims, despite religious organizations’
objections to the abortifacient nature of the drug," it adds.

New York Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat, said the draft proposal goes too far.

"Federal law currently protects individuals who prefer not to provide abortion services," Lowey said in a statement.

"This draft regulation would significantly expand the definition of
abortion to include birth control for the purpose of conscience clause
exemptions. By trumping state laws that guarantee women’s access to
prescription contraceptives, this policy would encourage health care
institutions seeking to limit access to birth control," she added.

AMA Apology for History of Racial Inequality Sparks Acknowledgement of Black Midwives … Our Bodies Our Blog documents an apology from the AMA for it’s history of racial inequality and a subsequent shout out to black midwives from the Big Push for Midwives campaign:

Those of us working on maternity care reform have long known that the
racial and ethnic disparities in birth outcomes in the U.S. are a
national scandal," said Susan M. Jenkins, Legal Counsel for the Big
Push for Midwives Campaign. "We’ve also known that midwives play a
critical role in reducing the two most preventable causes of neonatal
death, prematurity and low birth weight. Now that the AMA has
recognized the problem, perhaps their members will stop trying to
outlaw the solution.

At its annual meeting in June, the AMA issued resolutions opposing
the licensure and regulation of Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs),
who specialize in out-of-hospital delivery, with a strong focus on
preventative care. Historically, African American midwives have played
a significant role in minimizing racial disparities in birth outcomes,
and they were employed by the World Health Organization to train
traditional birth attendants in developing nations. In the first
several decades of the 20th century, the AMA and other medical groups
launched a racist campaign to outlaw so-called "granny midwives," which
resulted in the closure of the Tuskegee Institute’s state-of-the-art
midwifery school and forced African American women into segregated

African American midwives were also a target of racist practices
and deserve to be recognized as well; when those midwives were in the
community caring for women, we didn’t have such enormous disparity in
birth outcomes," said Jane Peterson, CPM and President of the Wisconsin
Guild of Midwives, and Advocacy Trainer with the Big Push for Midwives
Campaign. "Immigrant midwives here in Wisconsin and other Midwestern
states also struggled against attempts to outlaw them, but they were
never subject to the same level of racist animosity.

Washington Post Article on Homosexuality Criticized … If you missed it the Washington Post ran a great piece looking at the lives of several young gay students. The lengthy artcile includes a video interview with one of the brave young souls 15-year-old Saro Harvey from Virginia.  You really should give it a read.  A post put up today at – providing the latest news with a Christian perspective – really wants to criticize the WaPo piece but just can’t come up with a good way to do it.  The title, "Washington Post tells kids homosexuality is fine," implies that that is all one needs to say to criticize the article.  The post goes on to restate the content of the WaPo piece for several paragraphs and then offers it’s only real criticism:

The Washington Post article leaves the impression that Saro Harvey was
born gay/trans and that anyone who suggests otherwise is a candidate for a
re-education session in one of the "diversity and tolerance" clinics that often
accompany anti-bullying programs. The article does quote Saro’s father, James
Harvey, who Vargas says "struggles to grasp what ‘triggered’ Saro’s interest in
the same sex. Had his son been molested? He questioned. Could this be just a
Vargas does not inquire any further into the possible origins of
Saro’s same-sex attractions nor examine the boy’s relationship with his father.

Well, I guess the author just assumes it’s a given that homosexuality cannot be an innate orientation, though, of course it is not.  It baffles me that so many people still fall for the ‘Homosexuality is a sin!’ rhetoric when the rhetoric is so baseless and empty.  


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