Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Help Stop the Re-Definition of Contraception as Abortion

(© photo by Jill Posener)

Help Stop the Re-Definition of Contraception as Abortion

You'd think that the Bush administration's hatred of poor folks and the Foamy-Mouth Right's terror of being overrun by the reproductive capacities of brown people would find common ground in trying to make sure we/they have easy access to cheap birth control. You'd think, if rationality and logic were part of the equation.

But the need to control women's bodies pounds a stronger drumbeat in those bulging veins on their pasty foreheads. I guess they're counting on reducing the numbers of unwanted children after forced birth by killing them off with inadequate nutrition and polluted environments. If any make it to adulthood, they can either be sent to Iraq or put in ever-expanding prisons, both of which will earn income for KBR.

New regulations proposed by the Bush-infected Department of Health and Human Services, slated for release next week, will re-define common birth control, such as The Pill, IUDs and emergency contraception, as "abortion". Which means any health care provider who doesn't provide "abortion" (by choice or by legal limit) can deny contraception to poor and uninsured folks.

Lots of blogs are calling for an immediate response to this dire threat. Last week, Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray wrote a public letter to Secretary Michael O. Leavitt of the DHHS. Today, Senator Clinton has again posted a warning at her blog and at HuffPo, along with a concrete step we can all take: She's opened a petition to Leavitt calling for a refutation of "this outrageous policy that threatens to affect Medicaid and Title X programs that are important to millions of families." You can sign it by going here.

I'll quote Senator Clinton's website for a more detailed explanation of the negative impact of this definition change:

"These rules pose a serious threat to providers and uninsured and low-income Americans seeking care. They could prevent providers of federally-funded family planning services, like Medicaid and Title X, from guaranteeing their patients access to the full range of comprehensive family planning services. They'll also build significant barriers to counseling, education, contraception and preventive health services for those who need it most: low-income and uninsured women and men.

"The regulations could even invalidate state laws that currently ensure access to contraception for many Americans. In fact, they describe New York and California's laws requiring prescription drug insurance plans to provide coverage for contraceptives as part of "the problem." These rules would even interfere with New York State law that ensures survivors of sexual assault and rape receive emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms."

The re-definition is cloaked in the Right's language concerning "conscience clauses", i.e., allowing the right of refusal to provide care by those who believe that pregnancy is the life of a human being which begins at the instant of fertilization, whether or not implantation has taken place.

Of course, this flies in the face of accepted science. Everybody knows that life begins AFTER the Great Turtle has laid her eggs in the sands of Praia Milagro. When the eggs are safely covered, tiny blue Ratzenberger crabs dig tunnels unseen by human eyes and, once in the egg chamber, they gently reach out their smaller, God-anointed claw and tickle the ROUND end of the egg (rot in hell, ye who say otherwise, you pointed-end blasphemers). This tickle awakens the soul within and that is the moment where Life Begins.

Okay, I'm being silly. Most established science (including the American Medical Association) defines pregnancy "as beginning when the developing embryo becomes implanted into the endometrial lining of a woman's uterus". If the developing embryo does not implant in the right location -- such as an ectopic pregnancy -- then the surgery to deal with this life-threatening mishap is not an "abortion", because there is no viable pregnancy to abort. In 1965, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) adopted the definition of conception as "the implantation of a fertilized ovum". This was clarified in 1972 to read "Conception is the implantation of the blastocyst." Wikipedia (which is the source of all the quotes in this paragraph) points out "Current research suggests that fertilized embryos naturally fail to implant some 30% to 60% of the time. Of those that do implant, about 25% are miscarried by the sixth week after the woman's last menstrual period. As a result, even without the use of birth control, between 48% and 70% of zygotes never result in established pregnancies, much less birth."

Last April Feministe posted a wonderful video titled "How Pregnancy Happens" which ought to be required viewing for any voter. I copied it at my blog, and am going to share it with you again here, but be warned: NOT SAFE FOR WORK, and I personally wouldn't let a pre-teen watch it. This video, created by Flicker Lab for Planned Parenthood, is great information to have when dealing with the lies of this proposed assault on poor people and the reproductive rights of women and men.

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment by Nora Carrington, an error in the above (which was a misinterpretation by one of my sources) has been corrected. These proposals are due to be released next week but not go into effect until possibly 120 days from now. In the interim, commentary and protest will be what keeps this redefinition from occurring. If you know another means of working directly against this travesty, please pass it on and I'll post the link here.