The Bush Administration is circulating a draft regulation within the Department of Health and Human Services that would classify oral contraceptives and intrauterine devices (IUDs) as “destroying the life of a human being” because these methods of birth control prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation’s ultimate goal is to give single-cell fertilized eggs full rights by defining the eggs as “legal people.”
According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, the regulation would help ease laws the White House considers “coercive”. The regulation would enable insurance plans to drop contraceptive coverage from pharmacy benefit plans. Hospitals, medical providers, and pharmacies would no longer be obligated to dispense contraception if they have a “moral objection.” (Certain states already have laws that allow pharmacies to refuse to fill a contraceptive prescription; see WSJ chart.) The Journal gives an example that if the regulation is enacted, a receptionist at a clinic could not be punished for refusing to make appointments for patients seeking birth control pills.
I wonder what century we are living in when Colorado voters will consider an amendment to their state’s constitution this fall that would confer “full personhood” on fertilized eggs, a definition far beyond what doctors and scientists would define as a pregnancy let alone a person. To block or deny women from easily and safely obtaining contraception and abortion – even if she has been raped or her health is endangered – is gender discrimination. It means that men and fertilized eggs have more rights than women.
President Bush has the power to sign the regulation without Congressional approval. The Journal reports that several Congressional Democrats along with Democratic presidential candidate Senator Obama have signed letters against the proposal. Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain has declined to comment, just as he refuses to engage in “straight talk about Viagra and birth control.” While the regulation could be overturned by the next president, if McCain is elected, he might be reluctant to upset the religious right. It’s always safer to stop regulation from ever being enacted than to overturn it afterwards.
Making contraception more difficult to obtain is yet another physical, emotional, and economic burden for women that will result in more abortions. The White House’s proposed regulation should be a warning to voters how important it is to elect politicians who commit to upholding the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling (Roe vs. Wade) that legalized abortion in the US. If the Supreme Court is stacked with justices who overturn abortion, contraceptives could be next. This is why it is imperative that all forms of contraception should be available without a prescription so that women have control over their choices. After all, isn’t the ability to make choices part of the Republicans free market mantra? We’ve got an economic, energy, healthcare, housing, deficit, and infrastructure crisis, yet many politicians are more concerned with “personalizing” fertilized cells and eroding women’s rights.
If contraception/abortion opponents are so concerned about “boys and girls” (as they like to call the single-cell fertilized eggs), there are plenty of children already born who need to be loved and cared for.