Bush’s Last 77 Days

A New York Times editorial published today discusses the damage that Bush intends to inflict in his last 77 days in office. Restricting access to abortion is among his goals, the Times says:

Soon after the election, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, is expected to issue new regulations aimed at further limiting women’s access to abortion, contraceptives and information about their reproductive health care options.

Existing law allows doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in an abortion. These changes would extend the so-called right to refuse to a wide range of health care workers and activities including abortion referrals, unbiased counseling and provision of birth control pills or emergency contraception, even for rape victims.

Doctors were recently denied the right to restrict access to medical services based on religious beliefs by the California Supreme Court. In that case, a doctor refused to provide in vitro fertilization to a lesbian, and claimed the right to deny services because she is a Christian fundamentalist, under free speech and freedom of religion protections. It’s chilling to see a law sanctioning denial of service broadened on the federal level, and dispiriting to realize that if the California Supreme Court case makes it to the Supreme Court, the doctor who denied services will likely prevail, no matter the result of today’s presidential election.

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