Saturday, July 19, 2008

Don’t Let Ideology Dictate Health Care!‏

Your immediate action is needed to stop the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from implementing an ideologically motivated regulation that would undermine women's access to health care by allowing federally funded health service personnel to refuse to provide services based on their personal religious beliefs.

The impact of this proposed regulation would be doubly harmful. Not only would it redefine "abortion procedure" to include normal forms of contraception, it would allow health care providers to withhold information and care options from their patients simply because these options conflict with the providers' religious beliefs. Religious doctrine is given priority over patients' needs.

Not only does this regulation represent bad science,
it's a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

Pick up your telephone now - call Secretary Michael Leavitt of the Department of Health and Human Services at 202-690-7000 and Christina Pearson, HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at 202-690-7850, and urge them to stop this proposed rule.

The regulation would require anyone who receives funding under federal health programs to certify in writing that they will NOT refuse to hire any medical personnel who object to providing services related to abortion or contraception.

Medical personnel who refuse services are usually motivated by religious beliefs, so allowing their personal objections to interfere with the delivery of reproductive services represents a violation of the separation of church and state as well as of common sense about abortion and contraception.

The proposed regulation means that hospitals, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists could refuse to provide reproductive services and still receive federal funds. State and local governments could not deny grants of federal funds to hospitals and other institutions that object to abortion for religious or ideological reasons.

The regulation includes a definition of abortion so broad that it includes much that is normally regarded as contraception. Abortion is defined as: "any of the various procedures that results in the termination of life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation." This is a transparent attempt to redefine emergency contraception as abortion.

In addition, the regulation is so sweeping that it would allow an employee whose job is to clean surgical equipment to refuse to do so because of personal belief. A health center staff person who objected to contraception could refuse to schedule appointments for women (and men) seeking help. This would cause chaos in the delivery of reproductive services, because those in most need—17 million women who rely on publicly supported health care—could not be sure of receiving information or medical aid.

Please telephone Secretary Michael Leavitt of HHS at 202-690-7000 and Christina Pearson, HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at 202-690-7850, and tell them that the proposed regulation must not be enacted.

Ask them to schedule a period of public comment on the proposed rule. You can refer to the rule as the extension of the Church Amendments, the Public Health Service Act Paragraph 245, and the Weldon Amendments, which purport to protect personal conscience.

Stop this regulation.

It is an attack on responsible public health, science, and separation of church and state.

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