Having garnered only pro forma support from some of her Senate colleagues (with the notable exception of her frequent partner, Senator Patty Murray) in her efforts to prevent George W. Bush’s HHS from denying millions of women access to birth control, Hillary Clinton joins with the president of Planned Parenthood and takes her case to the media:
The definition of abortion in the proposed rule is left open to interpretation. An earlier draft included a medically inaccurate definition that included commonly prescribed forms of contraception like birth control pills, IUD’s and emergency contraception. That language has been removed, but because the current version includes no definition at all, individual health care providers could decide on their own that birth control is the same as abortion.
The rule would also allow providers to refuse to participate in unspecified “other medical procedures” that contradict their religious beliefs or moral convictions. This, too, could be interpreted as a free pass to deny access to contraception.
Many circumstances unrelated to reproductive health could also fall under the umbrella of “other medical procedures.” Could physicians object to helping patients whose sexual orientation they find objectionable? Could a receptionist refuse to book an appointment for an H.I.V. test? What about an emergency room doctor who wishes to deny emergency contraception to a rape victim? Or a pharmacist who prefers not to refill a birth control prescription?
The Bush administration argues that the rule is designed to protect a provider’s conscience. But where are the protections for patients?
The 30-day comment period on the proposed rule runs until Sept. 25. Everyone who believes that women should have full access to medical care should make their voices heard. Basic, quality care for millions of women is at stake. (emphasis added)
Folks, this is the real deal. This is how the Republicans plan to make abortion illegal – not by overturning Roe v. Wade, but by chip-chip-chipping away at the words and the framing that contains the debate over reproductive freedom for women. I say, they can only do this if we let them. We made the mistake long ago of allowing the most extreme, restrictive factions of the anti-abortion population to entitle themselves “pro-life.” As Hillary implies, is it really pro-life to deny important medical information to women who need it? What about the life of the mother?
In retrospect, I don’t believe the words “pro-choice” were a good enough response to the “pro-life” frame. From what I’m reading in comments over the Internets, I feel those words may have alienated some liberal women who do not support abortion for themselves, but don’t want to see it made illegal. I say we should call ourselves “pro-freedom.” If you deny me access to health care, contraception and abortion, I am not free to control my own body, am I? On the other hand, freedom means freedom to carry the pregnancy to term. It could be a more inviting way of explaining our position.
Hillary’s Op-Ed is a cry for help. I suggest we answer it, since so far, the Party that is supposed to be protecting women from this type of assault on their reproductive freedoms has done nothing whatsoever to prevent this horror from occurring.
Contact your Senators and Congresscritters. Email them or call them. We, the people, might be able to shame our representatives into doing what’s right, if we respond in enough numbers. And Obamans, do feel free to join us, since you are suddenly so concerned about reproductive freedom that you are trying to use it to force us to vote for your Beloved Precious.
You know what to do, fellow activists. Go to it!
UPDATE BY SHEL AT THE CONFLUENCE:
You can comment on the proposed regulation directly to HHS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s in the official posted copy at
Please everybody do this!
Cross-posted at The Confluence