Republicans seek to take the right of self-determination away from women

They're wielding religion against women's rights
March 4, 2012 12:00 am

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These two are the exceptions that prove the rule. Religious exemptions on public health matters are primarily a Republican issue. It's already the case that health care workers, from ambulance drivers to physicians and pharmacists, receive broad immunity for refusing to give care based on their own conscience.

Doctors can refuse to prescribe birth control, pharmacists can refuse to dispense the Plan B morning-after pill. Insurance exemptions would be an even more sweeping measure, and the pattern is depressingly clear: Everyone else's agenda trumps a woman's right to self-determination.

For reasons of group psychology that are beyond my grasp, Republicans keep getting more pinch-faced and puritanical on health care policy related to women and sex. Politicians of both parties have their share of sexual transgressions, but it's largely Republicans who seem intent on playing the sanctimonious Rev. Dimmesdale, hectoring women as if they were all Hester Prynne.

The result is a growing list of insults. Pennsylvania lawmakers, under the guise of protecting women, passed costly and unnecessary rules designed to put many abortion clinics out of business, as if hospital-grade elevators have anything to do with safety.

Virginia tried to require invasive vaginal ultrasound scans prior to all abortions, then settled for making it "optional." Oklahoma requires pregnant women to view ultrasounds so they have "all the information" and shields doctors from lawsuits for refusing to tell patients about fetal defects.

For lawmakers who find abortion so appalling, they're awfully eager to put up roadblocks to the very contraception coverage that reduces unwanted pregnancy. Three votes was a shockingly slim margin to protect access to care, but it was enough -- this time.


First Published 2012-03-03 23:07:17

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