After much thought about how to craft a response to this hideous misuse of governmental power to further the agenda of the religious right to the detriment of women everywhere, I decided that the best is simply to go through their words and add a bit of commentary.
In short, the Bush Administration's Department of Health and Human Services has taken their stupidity and disregard for science one step further today by announcing that they intend to define contraception as abortion.
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. (NY Times)
Essentially, practicing safe sex by using contraceptives is "morally coercive."
Let's just ignore the fact that they've made the word "contraceptive" synonymous with "abortion," when that couldn't be further from the truth - that'll be addressed later.
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.”
Congratulations, Mr. President. Your administration has just upped the number of unplanned pregnancies.
“We worry that under the proposal, contraceptive services would become less available to low-income and uninsured women,” Ms. Gallagher said.
That's the goal, isn't it?
Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy accepted by the American Medical Association and our nation's pregnancy experts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is: pregnancy begins at implantation. With this proposal, however, HHS is dismissing medical experts and opting instead to accept a definition of pregnancy based on polling data. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment (there's no test to determine if a woman's egg has been fertilized). Under these new standards there would be no way for a woman to prove she's not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception under HHS' new science. (RH Reality Check, emphasis mine)
No way for a woman to prove that she isn't pregnant?
It seems to me that prevention of safe sex practices and a complete disregard for women's rights are this administration's goals.
I'm so angry that an analysis of this decision fails me (and for those who know me well, you know that's not something that happens often. Or ever.). It shocks me to think that people in power can be this ignorant.
No matter what you do or how you twist the definition to fit your administration's backwards agenda, I will never believe that every morning when I take my birth control, it's abortion. And neither should anyone else.
Be assured that more will be coming as I process the idiocy that is this decision. In the meantime, however, I encourage you all to take a peek at the leaked memo
(caution, it's a PDF) that started all of this.