By Breeanna Sveum
As part of a train of 11th hour legislation from the Bush administration, a new federal rule was passed allowing healthcare providers to refuse care based on moral and religious objections. Doctors can refuse any care to which they morally object, despite the relative necessity of the procedure.
The rule, which will cost upwards of $43 million a year to enforce, was aimed at doctors and healthcare workers who object to certain reproductive procedures, like abortion and emergency contraception. It requires institutions receiving federal funding to certify their compliance as conscientious objectors.
The new administration, with its promises of change and hope for women’s rights, should make it a priority to issue new regulations to overturn or bypass this rule. All women deserve the right to make their own decisions about reproduction and to have access to all possible options. The new rule is superfluous, vaguely worded and dangerous for women’s reproductive rights.
There are already a number of laws on the books that protect healthcare providers from participating in abortions and sterilizations that they object to morally. Current regulations state that institutions cannot discriminate against doctors who refuse to perform abortions.
The new rule is unnecessary and so vague that it could prevent women from obtaining birth control or emergency contraception due to the objections of pharmacists and prescribing doctors.
Doctors who object to emergency contraception, even in the event of rape, can make it difficult for women to get the care they need after such a traumatic situation.
Additionally, the rule makes it difficult for women who are pregnant to obtain counseling to learn about all of their options.
By effectively reducing access to contraception and counseling for women, the new rule will lead to an increase in unwanted and unintended pregnancy, not a decrease.
The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and, in turn, abortion, is increased awareness about and access to contraception. The best way to ensure this is to overturn or trump this new rule with additional regulation so women, and all Americans, are ensured access to the care they deserve, regardless of the objections of a vocal minority.
By Breeanna Sveum