Monday, November 22, 2004

Here We Go

I haven't seen this getting much coverage in the blogosphere. The New York Times reported Saturday that the GOP has tacked an anti-abortion clause into the "must pass" spending bill up before the lame-duck congress.

The abortion language would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors, provides such "conscience protection'' to doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new language would expand that protection to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

"It's something we've had a longstanding interest in," said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He added, "This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to coerce health care providers to participate in abortions." [snip]

Louise Melling, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed the provision, said it would effectively strip states of their right to "enforce laws that were designed to protect women's health."

For instance, she said, there are four states - Hawaii, Maryland, New York and Washington - that pay for some abortions for low-income women through their Medicaid programs. Under the language included in the omnibus bill, hospitals would not have to comply with those requirements.

This is exactly the kind of sneak-attack that many of us were expecting with a second Dubya term: don't outlaw abortion outright, because that would deprive you of a primary motivator during election cycles. No, instead, just make it damn near impossible to actually get an abortion. That way you can have your cake and eat it too. Oh, except for all you ladies - er, women. But you didn't expect the repubbbs to treat you like a significant portion of the voting public, did you?

Update: I've been looking, and I can't find whether or not this has passed yet - anyone out there have any information? Just trying to figure out how soon I have to start applying for Canadian/Swedish/ UK/anyothergoddamncivilizedcountry citizenship.
Update 2: Per NPR on the way home, it *did* pass this weekend. So, par for the course, then. Enjoy the shreds of your reproductive freedom while they last.