The American war against women’s rights: the HHS attacks access to birth control

American atrocities aren’t limited to Abu Ghraib or extraordinary rendition. Oh no. The current Presidential administration clearly believes that – like charity – ideological warfare begins at home. And (in keeping with their international approach) they turn their nastiest tactics on the easiest targets.

Case in point: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is circulating a document outlining how it: “proposes to promulgate regulations to ensure that, in accordance with the Church Amendments… Department funds do not support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies.”

“Church Amendments” has a slightly sinister ring (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” right?) But it sounds fairly benign apart from that. Not supporting “morally coercive practices” seems a laudable enough intention. Until, of course, you read on and discover just who it is – poor lambs – that needs the righteous Feds to step in and protect them from being morally coerced: repugnant prigs whose heads are so far up their tightly clenched buttocks they wish to impose their own “morality” on the community at large by refusing women access to birth control.

Don’t for a second be lulled by sheep-clad phrasing like, “the provisions prohibit discrimination on the basis of one’s objection to or participation in specific procedures, including abortion or sterlization [sic].” They want you to envisage some sweet-natured duffer in a white coat, who yearns to save babies from being mercilessly ripped from the womb by heartless bitches who just want to get back to work; yet who may be stymied in his self-appointed task by people who think that – well – it’s a doctor’s job to provide medical services.

This isn’t the case. For the purposes of this loathsome ambush on women’s basic human rights the HHS defines abortion as “any of the various procedures – including the prescription 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” (italics mine).

Quick contraceptive refresher course here: that definition is broad enough to include not just actual abortions, or emergency contraception, but ordinary hormonal contraception, including the pill, and effective long-term birth control solutions like IUDs (which work by, crucially, preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. The “whether before or after implantation” clause is evil genius). Ahem. So that’s pretty much every form of birth control apart from condoms, abstinence and crossing-yer-fingers-and-praying-real-hard chucked out the window.

Shhhhhh, someone (some man) is bound to come along and say to me. You’re paranoid. You’re reading too much into it.

You think? Try as they might to dress this up as “not making people kill babies” this is absolutely about denying access to birth control. The HHS betrays their mendacious agenda repeatedly in the document.

Example: “52% [of physicians] objected to abortion for failed contraception.” See: not even that abortion shouldn’t be used as a form of contraception but that a woman unlucky enough to have her contraception fail should be punished by being forced to have a child. Hahahaha. That’ll teach those selfish tramps to stop trying to avoid their God-given duty to squeeze out a few sprogs!

Example: “Both California and New York have passed laws requiring employers offering employee prescription drug benefits to pay for contraception… yet they do not protect faith-based charities, hospitals, or other faith-based organisations” (italics mine). Because why should an employer be obliged to participate in a female employee’s ungodly decision to dodge her biological destiny?

Example: “In May 2007, Connecticut passed a law requiring all hospitals to distribute Plan B [a brand name for standard, hormonal emergency contraceptive] to rape victims, despite religious organisations’ objections to the abortifacient nature of the drug.” This really gets me. That the object of our sympathy is meant to be the “religious organisations,” not rape victims who might, understandably, not wish to be forced to bear a child as a result of a violent crime committed against them.

I could go on, and on. The whole 39 pages of this disgusting manifesto oozes misogyny. As an aside: the HHS document quotes the Church Amendments, which repeatedly use the lone pronoun he – as in “he refused to perform… [an] abortion on the grounds [it] would be contrary to his beliefs.” A mere grammatical slip? Or a tacit acknowledgement of the fact this shit is perpetrated by men, for men?

Bottom line, the US Government would like you to know it is all about wanting to “protect individuals and institutions from suffering discrimination on the basis of conscience.” Unless, of course, you’re a woman whose conscience tells her that not having a child is the right thing to do, right now.

So there you have it. In the topsy-turvy, doublethink, fucked up world of the United States those in power (doctors, hospitals, pharmacies) are the victims while the disempowered (women in general, rape victims in particular) are enemy. Heaven forfend I should have control over my body at the expense of some man’s “conscience.”

4 thoughts on “The American war against women’s rights: the HHS attacks access to birth control

  1. Pingback: Spain to liberalise abortion laws - hurrah for equality and common sense « irresponsibility

  2. Pingback: Women: forget the ‘big think’ and start thinking big « Irresponsibility

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