Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thanks for telling me what to do with my body

I REALLY wish that shoe had hit Bush the other day. And by "shoe" I mean "bullet," because I came home from work to this news:

The Bush administration today issued a sweeping new regulation that protects a broad range of health-care workers -- from doctors to janitors -- who refuse to participate in providing services that they believe violate their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

The controversial rule empowers federal health officials to cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, clinic, health plan, doctor's office or other entity if it does not accommodate employees who exercise their "right of conscience." It would apply to more than 584,000 health-care facilities.

They finally did it. Bush and his cronies finally passed legislation that allows medical employees to deny women information and resources critical to their reproductive health. It effectively ensures that women are no longer secure in the knowledge that their medical provider is doing all that they can to help them. It means that medical personnel can deny women access to abortions, birth control pills, even information about sexual and reproductive health.

I can hardly contain my outrage at this decision. The federal government should be PROTECTING our right to information and medical services, not limiting it. Women have EVERY RIGHT to protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs. Instead, our government has just swooped in and proclaimed that our right to health and happiness is secondary to another person's religious views.

The idea that this bill "protects the conscience" of medical providers is bullshit. If you aren't comfortable with the idea of prescribing/distributing birth control or performing abortions, DON'T GO INTO THAT PROFESSION. I can't get a job driving an ice cream truck and then refuse to hand out ice cream on the grounds that I'm against childhood obesity. Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists shouldn't be allowed to keep their jobs if they aren't willing to DO THOSE JOBS. They don't deserve protection for failing to provide adequate medical information and care for women. This action, like so much of Bush's administration, is absolutely unconstitutional. The government is endorsing religion by empowering people to impose their religious views on the rest of us. No one should have the power to impose their religiously-driven morals on others who don't share those viewpoints.

It is neither reasonable nor fair to expect women to travel elsewhere to receive these services. There are so many places in America that are served by a single pharmacy or doctor's office. And not everyone in those places has the money, resources, or insurance coverage to find another doctor or pharmacy. Furthermore, if you are a young person growing up in such an isolated place, how would you even know what information you are lacking if your doctor won't even discuss issues of birth control or sexual health?

Ironically, I bet every single one of the people who receive "protection" from this legislation have no problem with issues of men's health. Go into any pharmacy that refuses to sell birth control and ask to see how many bottles of Viagra they stock. This entire school of thought is the product of a religious patriarchy that inherently values the health and well-being of men over women.

It's up to the Obama administration to undo this travesty and allow women full control over their bodies and health. Obama, I had so much hope for you. Please don't let us down.

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