Last month, the Bush administration launched the latest salvo in its eight-year campaign to undermine women’s rights and women’s health by placing ideology ahead of science: a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that would govern family planning. It would require that any health care entity that receives federal financing — whether it’s a physician in private practice, a hospital or a state government — certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable...
The rule would also allow providers to refuse to participate in unspecified “other medical procedures” that contradict their religious beliefs or moral convictions. This, too, could be interpreted as a free pass to deny access to contraception.
Many circumstances unrelated to reproductive health could also fall under the umbrella of “other medical procedures.” Could physicians object to helping patients whose sexual orientation they find objectionable? Could a receptionist refuse to book an appointment for an H.I.V. test? What about an emergency room doctor who wishes to deny emergency contraception to a rape victim? Or a pharmacist who prefers not to refill a birth control prescription?
Maybe it feels like a crap-ass consolation prize after being denied a run at the White House. But Jesus, she could stay in the Senate forever and fight for us there in a very effective, very important way. I don't know if four or eight years of a bully pulpit would have the same effect, especially as people inevitably start ignoring years six through eight except for monumental fuckups. But I do know that she's the first woman senator to be loudly and continuously vocal about the HHS situation, and if we've finally found someone to carry that banner, well, I hope she doesn't give it up any time soon.