The Bush administration is its own expert on reproduction, economy

According to its report released Monday, the Department of Health
and Human Services is seeking to change the definition of “abortion”
used to determine which services can be provided or referred at a
facility receiving federal funds. As RH Reality Check reports,
there are two commonly used understandings of when a pregnancy begins:
conception (fertilization of the egg by the sperm) and implantation (of
the fertilized egg into the uterine lining).

The report states:

A 2001 Zogby International American Values poll revealed
that 49% of Americans believe that human life begins at conception
[...] Both definitions of pregnancy inform medical practice. Some
medical authorities, like the American Medical Association and the
British Medical Association, have defined the term “established
pregnancy” as occurring after implantation. Other medical authorities
present different definitions. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, for
example, defines pregnancy as “[t]he state of a female after conception
and until the termination of the gestation.”

The HHS report is suggesting that the definition of pregnancy be
changed from the definition established by the American Medical
Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
to one defined by…I’m not quite sure. RH Reality Check suggests that
this change is being determined by polling data, but unless some of the
sample said they didn’t know, or they have some creative ideas about
when pregnancy begins, 49% is not a majority. In any case, HHS is
proposing that we change the definition of pregnancy from what has been
established by medical bodies of experts to another definition
established by…the Bush administration.

This new definition is highly problematic. Pregnancy would now be
defined as occurring upon fertilization, and with no test for
fertilization, women who utilize federally-funded health facilities can
be turned away for contraceptive services on a whim. And as feministingnotes,
the women who will be the most affected are low-income and uninsured
women. Not to mention that claims that certain contraceptives prevent
implantation after fertilization are scientifically unproven. From RH
Reality Check:

There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of
birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.
This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to
include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, such as the
pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency
contraception, under the classification “abortion.”

What happens then is that the decision of whether or not something
counts as an abortifacient is up to the individual…doctor or nurse (of courseit’s not up to the individual woman!). And since the proposal also includes
mandating that doctors and nurses who are “conscientious objectors” not
be “discriminated” against in hiring practices by facilities receiving
federal funds, we have a recipe for disaster for women’s reproductive

So we have an HHS report that refutes the definition of pregnancy
made by medical experts, uses unscientifically proven claims about how
contraception functions vis-a-visfertilization
and implantation in order to redefine the contraceptive methods that
40% of women use as abortifacients, and enables federally-funded
medical facilities to deny the most economically vulnerable women basic
contraceptive services. And this from the “family values”
administration who seems to loathe single women receiving social welfare, considering their perspective on the Temporary Assistance to Needy Familiesprogram.

This also comes from our President who chastises reporters for using
the term “recession” in discussing the state of our economy, since
reporters aren’t economic “experts.” As we see here, what the experts
say doesn’t mean all that much to Bush when it comes to reproductive
rights and pandering to the religious right’s agenda.


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