From the New York Times:
The Bush administration wants to require all recipients of aid under federal health programs to certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. [...]
The proposal, which circulated in the department on Monday, says the new requirement is needed to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.” The administration said Congress had passed a number of laws to ensure that doctors, hospitals and health plans would not be forced to perform abortions.
This reference to not supporting coercive or discriminatory practices is interesting since the proposed change would explicitly allow medical providers to morally coerce patients and to discriminate against girls and women who want or need a service or a prescription which they are allowed to have by law.
I don't believe the Bush administration truly believes in their rationale for this proposed change. If they did then employment rules would apply to all areas where people don't want to perform certain tasks for moral reasons.
Think about the government contractors who have faced allegations of taking actions which show no respect for human life.
Blackwater guards have been accused of shooting innocent bystanders in a systematic pattern of overly aggressive response to threats -- real or imagined. KBR has faced accusations related to rape committed by their employees and they have been accused of performing faulty work which resulted in 13 soldiers being electrocuted while showering because of ungrounded wiring.
If their employees are asked to perform a task they see as immoral they should be able to refuse to do that task with the federal government's full and explicit protection.
Despite congressional hearings about the conduct of various defense contractors I have not seen any proposal by the Bush administration designed to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.”
Apparently the only morals which the Bush administration recognizes is the one which opposes abortion and birth control. Otherwise, those who work for an organization which gets federal money have no right to bring their morals to their jobs.
This proposal's hiring section seems designed specifically to allow people to apply for jobs they don't want to do per the job description, but which they don't want others to do either. The goal then of this proposal is to help people and organizations deny patients their legal rights.
The proposal defines abortion as follows: “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.” [...]
Indeed, among other things the proposal expresses concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who request it.
How dare states ensure rape victims are given their legal rights! Don't those states know that pregnancy through rape is a gift from God?
This concern about state laws reveals that while the Bush administration supports states rights to restrict abortions, they do not support states rights to permit abortions or even birth control. States either have the right to pass laws and constitutional amendments on a particular matter or they don't.
This proposal is therefore based on nothing more than the desire to deny people their legal rights -- even rape victims. Any framing which makes this proposal one that does nothing except protect people's rights is a lie.
Unfortunately, this deceptive packaging too often works on people who see the PR which focuses on values and who have learned to dismiss critics as being radicals who don't care about other people's rights.
This value message is contradicted by the decreased value of life used by the EPA.
When drawing up regulations, government agencies put a value on human life and then weigh the costs versus the lifesaving benefits of a proposed rule. The less a life is worth to the government, the less the need for a regulation, such as tighter restrictions on pollution.
Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted. [...]
The EPA made the changes in two steps. First, in 2004, the agency cut the estimated value of a life by 8 percent. Then, in a rule governing train and boat air pollution this May, the agency took away the normal adjustment for one year's inflation. Between the two changes, the value of a life fell 11 percent, based on today's dollar.
So the adminstration which markets itself as pro-life has discounted the value of all American lives. If it the effects of pollution rather than birth control which prevents a woman from carrying to term that's not a problem.
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Patty Murray jointly issued a press release on Wednesday expressing their opposition to this proposal.
Hat tip: Safer