Tuesday, August 26, 2008

go now

The Bush administration is in the process of taking one big, scary step towards dismantling women's reproductive rights. Go here and read about it:

Then send in your comments at the form linked in that blog post. These new regulations don't require approval from Congress or anyone, but the volume of public opinion could have an effect.

This is particularly terrifying to me because I just read a couple of books on the history of contraception that made it abundantly clear that being able to control our own fertility has been absolutely the single most important factor in allowing women a place in public life. (It's no coincidence that American women began fighting for the right to vote in the mid-1700s but weren't granted it until 1920 -- a few years after the dramatic downturn in fertility rates around the turn of the century.)

These new HHS regulations would allow any worker at a publicly-funded health care provider's office (including volunteers) to refuse to provide or assist in providing an IUD or any form of hormonal birth control (including emergency contraception, often prescribed for women who have been raped) to any woman for "conscience" reasons; and it would prevent those workers from being fired (or not hired in the first place) because of such refusal to do their jobs.

Low-income women, who probably can't afford to take even more time off of work and go to a different clinic (or may not even have another clinic within easy traveling distance), are the ones who will end up being hurt by this. These regulations are designed to attack the reproductive rights of the women who are already at the highest risk of not being able to obtain access to effective birth control. Poor women have historically been the last to gain any kind of reliable access to means to control their fertility. If the right-wing reactionaries in the Bush administration (redundant, I know) have anything to say about it, they will also be the first to lose it -- but not the last. Right-wing reactionaries everywhere are doing things like holding national protests against the pill, refusing to fill prescriptions, and so on. It's getting scarier out there for any woman who wants the ability to determine when and whether she gets pregnant. That is, 98% of us.

And all of this is not to mention the fact (one with which I am intimately familiar) that hormonal birth control is very often prescribed for purposes other than preventing pregnancy -- like, say, for the purpose of preventing me from being suicidal, or the purpose of preventing women with endometriosis from being in unbearable pain every second, or the purpose of preventing women with PCOS from suffering any number of debilitating side-effects.

Please, go send the ACLU's form email. It's really easy, and it's really important.

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