Friday, July 25, 2008

All Birth Control Is Now An “Abortion?”

I’ll admit that in the beginning even I was a bit skeptical about the idea that the anti-abortion was going to have any chance of success in taking away woman’s birth control. Sure they’d make some noise and make a lot of people nervous, but it wouldn’t really *happen.*

But the evidence is starting to pile up that they might have some success in, if not completely outlawing contraception, they can make it a lot more difficult to get.

The New York Times has a story about a leaked proposal that Health and Human Services (HHS) was circulating that would redefine all hormonal contraception as an “abortion.” Cristina Page writes about it here and here.

Now the reason why HHS would take this route is that by redefining contraception as “abortion” it gets around the Weldon and Church amendments, two laws that prohibit any agency receiving federal money from being required to offer abortion services. So if birth control becomes the same as abortion, there are a lot of ways this will have an effect on women’s ability to get contraception.

One of the main effects is that in 27 states there are laws requiring any employer that cover s prescription drugs to also cover contraception (because it’s not an “elective,” its not a cosmetic. It’s a regular part of health care for women and hence, if you cover diabetes medication employers should also be forced to cover birth control.) HHS’s proposed redefinition would then wipe out the state laws.

It would also immediate overcome any state rules about requiring pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception, or requiring hospitals to offer it to rape victims.

Now here’s the thing about the so-called “right” for pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication, Susan Paynter in the Seattle PI has a lot of good examples of what happens when you allow pharmacists to suddenly make snap judgments about their customers.

And, at a pharmacy in Seattle, a woman's prescription for a cervix-dilating medication was refused by a pharmacist who suspected she was on her way to have an abortion. Not that it ought to matter, but the woman's physician prescribed the drug because she was about to have surgery for uterine fibroids.

And, in Yakima, a pharmacist refused to dispense syringes to a diabetic, assuming he was an IV drug user. And there are more infuriating scenarios, says Nancy Sapiro of the Northwest Women's Law Center.
I don’t understand why moralists who think that requiring pharmacists to dispense birth control – even if they don’t like their customers – is any different than refusing to sell condoms (or disposable syringes) to “certain people” because, well you just don’t like them. Pharmacists are regulated by their own boards (and many state and federal laws) that say you don’t get to pass judgment on your customers.

Meaning you are not allowed to discriminate against people because of their gender, skin color or religion. What if some atheist pharmacist refused to dispense heart medication to the local pastor because he/she didn’t like their sermons and wanted him to get sick and die. Isn't that part of the atheist's religious freedom? Can’t the local pastor just go SOMEWHERE ELSE to get his necessary medication? Wouldn’t that be infringing on the atheist pharmacist right to not sell to only people whose lives he approves of? Oh wait that's a ridiculous example you say? But is it?

Deborah Kotz has more.

FYI -- I'm thrilled habladora has asked me to contribute to Feminist Underground.

--cross-posted at Feminist Underground.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Congratulations! I'm glad more people will discover your voice and enjoy it.