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    Bush Proposal Threatens Access to the Pill

    July 2008 | Filed under General Interest

    A Bush administration proposal aimed at protecting health-care workers who object to abortion, and to birth-control methods they consider tantamount to abortion, has escalated a bitter debate over the balance between religious freedom and patients’ rights.

    The Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing a draft regulation that would deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, IUDs and the Plan B emergency contraceptive.

    Conservative groups, abortion opponents and some members of Congress are welcoming the initiative as necessary to safeguard doctors, nurses and other health workers who, they say, are increasingly facing discrimination because of their beliefs or are being coerced into delivering services they find repugnant.

    UPDATED: Nov. 18 - The New York Times has a piece about the Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations that the Bush administration is planning to slip onto the books before he leaves office — and it looks like he’s going to get away with this; For now, anyway.

    Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said, “It’s unconscionable that the Bush administration, while promising a smooth transition, would take a final opportunity to politicize women’s health.”

    Obama is opposed to the regulations and will no doubt try to rescind the rule, however, that process can take 3 to 6 months.

    And in related news:
    Obama seen likely to renew funds for birth control clinics
    WASHINGTON (AFP) — Among a slew of executive orders Barack Obama is said to be drafting, observers believe one may lift a ban on US funding for overseas family planning groups that even dare mention abortion.

    “I think there’s a very good likelihood that he will lift the ‘global gag rule,’” said Steven Mosher, head of the pro-life, non-profit Population Research Institute.

    “The previous Democratic president Bill Clinton just a couple of days after being sworn in signed a whole series of executive orders which undid the policies of the previous two administrations,” Mosher said.

    First introduced by Republican president Ronald Reagan in 1984, the “global gag rule” cuts off US funding to overseas family planning clinics which provide any abortion services whatsoever, from the operation itself to counselling, referrals or post-abortion services.

    When President George W. Bush came into office in 2000, he immediately reversed Clinton’s orders once again freezing funds to many family planning groups.

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