fingerlakeswanderer

fingerlakeswanderer
Birthday
May 09
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cassandra
Bio
Lorraine Berry lives in the Fingerlakes region of New York, although it's her transplanted home. On weekends, she can be heard throughout the area, cheering on her beloved Manchester City F.C. When not writing at Does This Make Sense? or Talking Writing, she can be found hiking with her two dogs, hanging out with her two daughters, eating what her beloved Rob has cooked for her, or teaching creative writing at a small college in the area.

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SEPTEMBER 19, 2008 7:36AM

Bush Administration: Still Okay to Deny Women Contraception

Rate: 11 Flag

Hillary Clinton and Cecile Richards report in today's NY Times op-ed section that the Bush administration is, once again, attempting to block women's access to basic reproductive care.

"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.

Laws that have been on the books for some 30 years already allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further, ensuring that all employees and volunteers for health care entities can refuse to aid in providing any treatment they object to, which could include not only abortion and sterilization but also contraception."

This looks suspiciously like the rules that allowed Pharmacists to opt out of performing their duties: refusing to fill prescriptions that they objected to on moral grounds. Well, that pissed me off then, and this pisses me off now. 

 As I wrote a couple of years ago, after discovering that getting hold of Plan B contraception was not as easy as it would appear:

"Acquiring Plan B contraception is not as easy as it is made out to be. Several months ago, I started dating a man, things progressed quickly one hot, lazy summer afternoon, and we had sex. The next morning, I woke up, counted days, felt the familiar twinge in my side, and realized I was ovulating. Plan B seemed like a damned good idea. I called my doctor's office. I asked the receptionist to have one of the docs phone in a prescription for Plan B. "We don't do that," she said, in an extremely tight voice. I could hear the disapproval dripping from her voice. I called Planned Parenthood, got an appointment for that morning. I had to pay a full appointment fee and then pay for medication. Not cheap. But I did it. And, I'm delighted to say, did not get pregnant that month. "


When I went to see my doctor a couple of weeks later about something unrelated, I asked why the office did not phone in Plan B prescriptions. "But we do," I remember her saying, and it turned out that the receptionist had decided that I wasn't getting Plan B--not the doctor, not my pharmacist. 

I am lucky to live in a town where my pharmacist has never questioned a precription that's been written for me other than to ask me if I have any questions. He and I have had long conversations about various drugs, the cost of medication these days, the increasing co-pays by which insurance companies actively discourage one from taking the medicine you've been prescribed. We see a lot of people trying to get in the way of the doctor-patient relationship. 

 Imagine, though, if you live in a small town. Maybe the doctor you see follows the Hippocratic Oath, and has determined to care for their patients in the best way possible. But maybe her nurse, or her receptionist, or her billing clerk, thinks contraception interferes with the natural result of sex. Or thinks that prescribing minors contraception is a sin. 

 

According to Bush's new plan to once again ram morals down the throat of science, it would be the physician (or clinic, or hospital's) responsibility to CERTIFY that none of its employees were being asked to perform duties it found morally repugnant. Getting birth control might meen being asked to schedule on a day when everyone you might see on your way in and out of the building is "okay" with your health needs. 

 The rage I felt that day I found out that it was the receptionist who had made my contraception decision for me has re-flared today after reading the editorial At the time, I wrote the following:

"In the late 19th century, the Comstock laws made it a federal offense for certain information to cross state lines. In other words, magazines and mail that contained information about birth control was not allowed to circulate. Even though many of the methods of birth control we have now--condoms, diaphragms, and others--were available, the information that they existed could not circulate freely in the culture. Women often didn't know that they had options.


Increasingly, it's not that birth control is not available, it's that the knowledge that it's available is being repressed. If you live in a small town and need Plan B, are you going to know where you can go if your local pharmacist decides not to dispense your prescription? How can we help these women?


Finally, the pharmacist's job is not to dispense shame. I don't know what the figures are for men who've attempted to have their Viagra prescriptions filled and been denied. I can't imagine that there's been a lot of these cases. Because, when it all comes down to it, it's still okay for men to have sex. But, because I have sex, and I want access to birth control after the fact, I'm a whore.


I think I'm going to have that embroidered on a pillow."

Apparently, the Bush Administration wants to take us back to the day of the Comstock Laws. We already have an international gag rule, and soon, we may have rules that if your physician happens to live in a town that is dominated by certain views of sex, he or she may not be able to hire enough people who would agree to do the jobs they are supposed to be doing. 

Pharmacists for Life (sic) are already trying to place themselves in enough towns that they can deny prescriptions for medicines they don't believe in. If this rule passes, will there be entire training sessions for people to get jobs so they can just say no? 


 

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Clinton has suggestions for how these new regs may be opposed. Please read the editorial for details....
Clinton has suggestions for how these new regs may be opposed. Please read the editorial for details....
We definitely need to oppose them! This is pure madness. Can you imagine what will happen with Sarah Palin as VP? This insanity has to end and soon.
I'd like to see one of them nix some guy's Viagra... "Just what are you planning to do with those spermatazoa?"
Yeah, imagine the following conversation:
45-year old guy getting a scrip for Cialis
Pharmacist: Are you married?
Guy: No, why?
Pharmacist: So you're intending to FORNICATE this weekend? Well, I'm sorry. I can't fill a prescription for fornicators.

Can you imagine the outrage? And even worse, most people don't even know what Plan B contraception is: It's not RU-486; it's simply a high dose of birth control pills.
Sarah Palin has stated that she doesn't believe that married couples should use contraception, but I wonder how she feels about erectile-dysfunction drugs?
I wish they'd just leave women's reproductive rights alone. There is a reason they're called rights.
What I find amazing is the fact that reproductive rights are often separated from the whole right to privacy issue. As far as I'm concerned, reproductive rights are covered both by the 4th Amendment and the 9th Amendment, and I don't understand why women don't get to lay claim to those.
I mean, Jesus, if you don't control your own body, than what DO you have control over?
Boy, for a party that purportedly prides itself on the ideal of a non-intrusive government, they sure do seem intent on sticking their noses where... um... er... guess I'll leave it at that.

But I'm just sayin'...
And people still question why I have nothing but hate, disdain & loathing for social conservatives! I am so tired of these useless idiots running things. It's things like this that not only make me pro-choice, but makes me wish that in the case of these puritanical clowns, that abortions could be retroactive!
Thank you. I'm glad somebody's drawing attention to that OpEd.
I really hope that receptionist got fired! I’m very sorry you had to go through that.

Frankly I think nay pharmacist who turns down a legitimate prescription from any doctor for any reason should be fired, period. If you don’t want to dispense drugs, don’t be a pharmacist.
This is a two-fold move. One is literal of course; to deny women contraceptives. The other is a deep symbolic preparation for the illegalization of abortion. If you slowly normalize the idea that a woman has no right to contraceptives for various implied reasons, then you deaden people's moral sensibilities regarding target issues in social justice. By the time abortion becomes illegal, they would have already grown used to the idea that autonomy over one's body is old fashioned. Remember the Nazis normalizing euthanasia--getting people used to the idea that certan types of lives are dispensable? By the time the Holocaust came around, people were already numb, their ethical sensibilities re-configured.
I fear a similar tactic might be at play here. The implied message of the State is: we are saving a life that is not yet born.(sheeer nonsense). By the time a potential human has been conceived people would have been re-socialized accordng to a different "ethic" of the state. Normalizing injustice is the first step to....well, we all know what that is.
Superb piece!!!
This is a two-fold move. One is literal of course; to deny women contraceptives. The other is a deep symbolic preparation for the illegalization of abortion. If you slowly normalize the idea that a woman has no right to contraceptives for various implied reasons, then you deaden people's moral sensibilities regarding target issues in social justice. By the time abortion becomes illegal, they would have already grown used to the idea that autonomy over one's body is old fashioned. Remember the Nazis normalizing euthanasia--getting people used to the idea that certan types of lives are dispensable? By the time the Holocaust came around, people were already numb, their ethical sensibilities re-configured.
I fear a similar tactic might be at play here. The implied message of the State is: we are saving a life that is not yet born.(sheeer nonsense). By the time a potential human has been conceived people would have been re-socialized accordng to a different "ethic" of the state. Normalizing injustice is the first step to....well, we all know what that is.
Superb piece!!!
If Sarah Palin doesn't believe a woman should use birth control when she's married, then so be it. But, NO ONE should have to live by her screwed up ideas if they choose not to. Government has NO right telling women that they can't use birth control. What complete bullshit. I can't believe there are people... oh, wait, yes I can!!!!

I'd love to see the protests over this kind of thing, if she had any power to make any laws against female contraceptives and abortion!
I don't understand why we should punish women because some people choose to enter a profession that requires acts against their beliefs.

Doesn't it make more sense for these religious objectionists to seek a career that will not ask them to perform a task they object to?

This has been going on for a while - to the severe detriment of rural women especially. For women, it is a critical health issue. For religiously-objecting pharmacists, it was a career choice they knowingly made. To codify their resistance and prejudice against women would be reprehensible. I see an SC court case in the making - so we'd better be sure we do not allow more religionous objectionists to be appointed there!

The only safe choice for women is the Obama/Biden ticket.
Unbelievable, the receptionist denying you contraception. And terrifying. Thanks for the post.
It shouldnt effect clinics, but how could a hospital possibly verify the opinions of all it's empoyees on all it's procedures? One could be against breast implants, another circumcision, etc. What happens if they sing something and are wrong? Fines?

More importantly, at hiring time, do they have to give their employees a fucking questionaire about every procedure they do and make sure they are okay with it? Or simply not hire someone who doesn't approve of one?

For example a hospital has so many employees they are going to have proflife and prochoice people, probably working together. How could they even know the opinion of 1,000 empoyees?
I'd have made the title more harsh even. It's bad enough what you say, but consider the effects of the global gag rule (e.g., see http://www.globalgagrule.org/ ). Denying funds to various organizations that provide abortions doesn't just mean money doesn't flow to abortions, it also means it doesn't flow to other family planning done by such organizations. So outside the US, our coercive effect on other nations is tragic. Inside the US, these things of course still matter because human beings are affected in deeply personal ways by other people trying to enforce a morality that is not universally agreed up. But outside the US, where the population explosion is more acute, our failure to invest in decent contraception just because some members of our standing government have a beef with some politics they have no business in, means that all the while some bad problems are growing worse and worse. It's bad news. Add to that the pressure on Bush (and soon on Palin/McCain if that goes badly) to reinstate the in-US gag rule (e.g., go to http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/abortion_title_x.html and then search for "gag rule") and the glee with which Palin/McCain will want to pursue an upset of the Supreme Court and...

Bleah. It's a terrible situation. Let's cross our fingers for Obama.
Thanks for this -- cogent and appropriately pissed off at the same time. (I used to wander the finger lakes region, by the way. It's nice there...when the sun manages to come out!). Seriously, the reproductive rights conversation needs to be much broader -- all anyone can talk about is abortion, when we know that it is about so much more than that (and when they start redefining what abortion means, it's clear how scary things can get). I'm thankful for that op-ed and hope these issues that deeply affect real women can get some play over the din of lipstick and pit bulls.
Bush is an evil man surrounded by evil men and women. This piece is very enlightening. Thanks.