Media Covers HHS Backpedaling on Redefining Contraception as Abortion

Scott Swenson

The Bush Administration efforts to redefine contraception as abortion continue to make major news, and give anti-choice publications one more chance to stir up emotion and misinformation.

The Washington Post and LA Times look into the growing controversy over the Bush Administration plans to redefine contraception as abortion.

From the Post:

The proposal has been welcomed by conservative groups, advocates for
religious freedom and others. But the draft has triggered widespread
concern that it would restrict access to contraceptives as well as
inhibiting scientific research, perhaps permitting discrimination
against gay men and lesbians, and even interfering with end-of-life

According to the language in a draft of the regulation that leaked
last month, the rule would apply to anyone who participates in "any
activity with a logical connection to a procedure, health service or
health service program, or research activity. . . . This includes
referral, training and other arrangements of the procedure, health
service, or research activity."

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From the LA Times:

"Secretary Leavitt’s vague comments on the draft HHS rule do nothing
to reassure Americans that the administration is not considering
redefining abortion to include forms of contraception, thereby
jeopardizing women’s access to basic healthcare," said Cecile Richards,
president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The
administration needs to stop playing word games with women’s health and
state clearly they will reject any regulations that will undermine
women’s access to basic healthcare."

"Bush and his political appointees have a long, long record of
attacks on contraception," agreed NARAL Pro-Choice America President
Nancy Keenan. "So Secretary Leavitt’s claim that the department never
intended to target birth control isn’t believable."


In addition The Hill newspaper quotes a new letter from Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray demanding a meeting with HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt;

“Your publicly stated explanation did not give us confidence the
Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] is drafting a rule that
would ensure these services,” the senators wrote. Clinton and Murray
pointedly note in their letter that Leavitt has not answered their
previous two letters on the draft regulations. At issue is
the definition of “abortion” employed in a draft regulation that the
administration’s opponents say is so broad it could be used to include
many forms of birth control, including the pill, IUDs and the
“morning-after pill.”


Now compare what the anti-choice has to say about this:

A U.S. Department
Health and Human Services proposed regulation that would protect
freedom of conscience for pro-life physicians and pharmacists will
likely be rewritten to reflect pro-abortion demands.

A widely circulated draft of the HHS proposal would have defined
abortion to include the birth control pill, thus protecting pro-life
pharmacists from dispensing abortion-causing drugs like the pill. …

"Why is Secretary Mike Leavitt kowtowing to birth control companies
and abortion activists?" asked Jen Catelli, American Life League
director of media relations. "If he is seeking to protect conscience
rights of those who want nothing to do with abortion, he needs to
recognize that contraceptives can cause abortions."

"The truth is that life begins at creation, and anything that
destroys that life is an abortion," Catelli said. "We hope Mr. Leavitt
will have the courage to stand for truth against abortion advocates."



The outcry from the 98 percent of Americans who use contraception at some point in their lives to prevent an unintended pregnancy is labeled "pro-abortion", by Lifesite, to inflame emotions. Misinformation is used about birth control causing an abortion, which it does not, is stated as fact.

Emotion and misinformation are stock and trade of the anti-choice movement. Compare the reactions from Richards, Kenan, Clinton and Murray — each working to protect women’s health, rights and prevent unintended pregnancy.

Instead of supporting Sec. Leavitt’s efforts to backpedal on the Bush Administration’s attempt to redefine contraception as abortion, Lifesite reinforces the most extreme views of the fringe of the anti-choice movement, demonstrating just how far outside the mainstream the movement is. They do not want to prevent unintended pregnancies or abortions, they want to make everyone believe exactly what they believe, and they don’t care how many facts they have to ignore to do it.



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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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