Remember those really horrible Department of Health and Human Services regulations that we heard were going to be proposed last month? Well, they’ve officially been announced. The regulations allow doctors and nurse practitioners to refuse to treat women for anything that might “conflict” with their religious beliefs. They also define “abortion” as ending a pregnancy even before implantation–which means they’d allow health care professionals to refuse to distribute birth control.
We’ve known about the potential for these kind of tactics for a while. HHS Secretary Michael Levitt raised a stink back in March over the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ new ethics guidelines (PDF), which said that a health care provider had an obligation to give a referral to a woman in a timely manner if he or she felt that the requested reproductive services would conflict with his or her conscience.
Additionally, such regulations directly conflict with state laws in California, Massachusetts, and Illinois that require hospitals and pharmacists to distribute birth control and emergency contraception if a patient requests it. In other words, this proposed rule could be very bad news for women and their reproductive health.