Bush Administration Attempts to Redefine Forms of Contraception as a of Abortion

From the New York Times

The Bush administration is developing a regulation that would define abortion as “any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation,” the New York Times reports. The draft proposal leaked to the Times also would require all recipients of aid from HHS to certify they will not refuse to hire health care workers who object to abortion and certain types of birth control.

According to the Times, to receive funding under any program administered by HHS, researchers, clinics, medical schools and hospitals would have to sign “written certifications” that they will not discriminate against people who object to abortion or certain contraception. The certification also would be required of state and local governments when allocating grants to hospitals and other institutions that have policies against providing abortions, the Times reports. The administration said it could discontinue federal aid to individuals or entities that discriminate against people who oppose abortion on the basis of “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The leaked proposal — which circulated in HHS on Monday — said the new requirement is needed to guarantee that federal funds do not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.” The proposal also expresses concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors who request it, according to the Times.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt wrote that the “most troubling aspect of the proposed rules is the overly broad definition of ‘abortion,'” which would allow medical providers to classify common contraception as abortion and be allowed to refuse to provide it. “As a consequence, these draft regulations could disrupt state laws securing women’s access to birth control,” endanger federal programs such as Medicaid and Title X, as well as “undermine state laws that ensure survivors of sexual assault and rape receive emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms,” Clinton and Murray wrote. They added, “We strongly urge you to reconsider these regulations before they are released. We are extremely concerned by this proposal’s potential to affect millions of women’s reproductive health” (Clinton/Murray release, 7/16). You can read the letter here.

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