One of my regular reads, ShortWoman pointed me to a story about the Department of Health and Human Services with this provocative paragraph (Which is only part of a much longer post about the global war on women that I urge you to go read):
And now, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has decided that they know better than actual doctors, and is attempting to redefine pregnancy in such a way as to magically turn the use of hormonal birth control into an “abortion.” This would of course free up pharmacists and doctors to refuse allow women to get it on “moral” grounds. It would also effectively prevent any public health system from dispensing birth control. This, ironically, will raise the number of unwanted pregnancies, which will in turn raise the numbers of abortions out there. Bizarro Government.
Which led me to the post she linked to for the above, HHS Moves to Define Contraception as Abortion at RH Reality Check. The article includes this introduction:
In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception, the birth control 40% of Americans use, as abortion. Doing so protects extremists under the Weldon and Church amendments. Those laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services.
And goes on to describe how the government proposal seeks to define "abortion" as follows:
Abortion: An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are two commonly held views on the question of when a pregnancy begins. Some consider a pregnancy to begin at conception (that is, the fertilization of the egg by the sperm), while others consider it to begin with implantation (when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus). A 2001 Zogby International American Values poll revealed that 49% of Americans believe that human life begins at conception. Presumably many who hold this belief think that any action that destroys human life after conception is the termination of a pregnancy, and so would be included in their definition of the term "abortion." Those who believe pregnancy begins at implantation believe the term "abortion" only includes the destruction of a human being after it has implanted in the lining of the uterus.
Finally, as I've mentioned before, I follow Mike Leavitt's blog...he the Secretary of the Dept. of H&HS. And in a post, entitled "Physician Conscience", he says the following:
An early draft of the regulations found its way into public circulation before it had reached my review. It contained words that lead some to conclude my intent is to deal with the subject of contraceptives, somehow defining them as abortion. Not true.
The Bush Administration has consistently supported the unborn. However, the issue I asked to be addressed in this regulation is not abortion or contraceptives, but the legal right medical practitioners have to practice according to their conscience and patients should be able to choose a doctor who has beliefs like his or hers.
The Department is still contemplating if it will issue a regulation or not. If it does, it will be directly focused on the protection of practitioner conscience.
So, I like Secretary Leavitt's blog in general...it's not mind-blowingly creative, but he does tell long, substantive stories about his travels around the country and the world looking at public health issues. It's an insider view at a lot of different kinds of places and problems.
All that to say that although I'm sure he and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum I respect what he does and I respect that he blogs. The above, however andunfortunately, is plain old political doublespeak. At first you might think he's denying that he's trying to define contraceptives as abortion. He says "Not true", and if you only scan it quickly you might be relieved.
But be not so relieved. All he is doing is denying that the intent of the proposed regulations is to address abortion or contraception. No, the intent is to accommodate physician conscience.
Whatever. I don't really care about the intent, what matters is the outcome...what does the regulation, you know, regulate?
His blog post doesn't pass the smell test by about a mile.