Parting Shots: The Bush Administration’s Assault on Women’s Health Care

By john trevisani

WASHINGTON (RushPRnews)12/22/08 -Picture this: Joe-sixpack walks into his local pharmacy hands his prescription for Cialis to the Pharmacist and turns to sit in the waiting area. But before one of Joe’s cheeks touches the seat, the Pharmacist calls him over to inform him of some sad news; that his prescription won’t be filled.

Joe’s prescription won’t be filled because the pharmacy is out of Cialis or any other ED medication, no; the prescription won’t be filled because the pharmacist personally objects to any medication that promotes sexual intercourse for something other than procreation. The pharmacist cites his religious faith as the reason for the refusal of service.

Of course this wouldn’t happen. Let’s face it; if the Bush Administration pushed some faith-based, ‘refusal clause’ or ‘conscience rule’ that disproportionally negatively affected white men, I believe Hell would be having one doosey of a snowstorm.

But what the Bush administration (link) did push through was an eleventh-hour rule that affected women and their basic right to an equal and fair health care system. The scope of the new version of the refusal clause is unconscionable. Among the highlights:

– The rule allows health-care providers to define contraception, in pretty much any form, as abortion
– Health-care providers may refuse treatment based on ‘lifestyle’ or “life” choices of the patient
– The new law overrides state laws that required hospitals to tell rape victims about access to emergency contraception

The Bush Administration’s last parting shot against women is nothing new. For eight long years, this administration ran rough-shad over the common-sense approach to complex issues by catering to the whims of the religious right. This latest rule ices the cake however.

The Bush administration announced its “conscience protection” rule for the health care industry this week, giving everyone including doctors, hospitals, receptionists and volunteers in medical experiments the right to refuse to participate in medical care they find morally objectionable.The right-to-refuse rule includes abortion, but Leavitt’s office said it extends to other aspects of health care where moral concerns could arise, including birth control, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research or assisted suicide.

“This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience,” outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists call this rule a ‘ill conceived policy change” and continued “the outgoing administration’s implicit contempt for women’s right to accurate and complete reproductive health information and legal medical procedures. This new HHS regulation places patient’s rights directly behind the rights of ideologically-driven physicians and anyone else directly or indirectly involved in their health care. “

Interesting that the ACOG has caught the subtle hypocrisy in the policy, identifying the ‘ideologically-driven physicians’ in this draft. The hypocrisy comes from the traditional rallying cry from the religious-right against ‘activist judges’. I guess the judges are only activists when the judge’s decision differs from the religious-right’s views.

The sad fact is that this administration is taking dead aim at the women of this country and telling them, by policy and by rule, that there are two different Americas. One America where Joe Sixpack can buy his Cialis and Trojans and another America where Jane the Hockey-mom can’t buy a NuvaRing or a monthly dose of The Pill.

It’s time to put this heresy behind us and move on.

Source: John Trevisani