I’m not a pothead, so, though I feel in my gut that our “war on drugs” is a massive waste of time (designed, intentionally or not, I would argue, to disenfranchise minorities and poor whites, but when I start talking like that, my dad calls me “crazy” so… whatever… I still think I’m right and that it’s intentional), I’m not joining NORML or sending the state legislature special brownies in an effort to point out to them how much tax money we’re losing from having one of our largest cash crops by necessity being off the books.
But I do tend to sit around with our friends, the libertarians, and complain about how stupid this is.
Because, folks, I really loathe stupidity.
And it’s a problem for me.
I’ll just say that I’m not sure what my qualifications for non-stupid are, because lord knows I could write you a long list of PhDs I think are utterly stupid and a long list of stoners (speaking of) who were lucky to finish high school who I think are brilliant.
If I were a libertarian (speaking of), I guess that wouldn’t be a problem. I’d believe in the primacy of the individual and if other individuals don’t conform to my notions of smarts, kick them to the curb and let them get what’s coming to them. (Known, obviously, as the Sarcastro strain of libertarianism, which differs slightly from the Exador strain, which encourages taking their wallets after you’ve kicked them to the curb in order to “liberate” your tax dollars.)
But I am a pinko commie liberal (speaking of which, I was feeling bad about taking three years of Russian, but now that we’re going to restart the cold war, don’t I look brilliant?) and I also am firmly committed to the belief that there are lots of different types of people who do things and believe things that are very different than what I do and believe and just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or stupid. And that I need to make an effort to try to understand and respect the differences between me and others in order to understand us both as sharing a common humanity.
Whew, that’s got to be the longest, most round-about way of introducing a topic I’ve every embarked on, which is saying something.
So, to get to the point, I’m following Rachel’s posts about Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt who is attempting to enact a public policy which would allow healthcare providers who don’t want to provide abortions to not provide abortions (see here and here). On the surface, since this is already public policy, it would seems this would just be more of the Republicans’ strategy of legislative redundancy.
But his policy would allow for the healthcare provider to define abortion as pretty much whatever the healthcare provider decided an abortion was. So, even though the scientific definition of a pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants in a woman’s uterus, if a healthcare provider decided that, to her, a pregnancy began (and thus human life began) when an egg was fertilized, she could decide not to issue any form of birth control which might prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Popular forms of birth control, like the Pill, for instance carry a very slight risk of preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg. That’s not the way it works 99.99999999999% of the time, and lord knows enough women get pregnant on the Pill to prove that even in rare instances where women still ovulate while on the Pill, the Pill doesn’t always prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.
But there’s a chance. A vanishingly small chance–the sun and the moon and the planets and the stars would all have to be aligned exactly right–but it might happen.
Which means that a doctor could choose not to provide you with birth control. Based on the astronomically small chance that the Pill, which somehow was not powerful enough to prevent you from ovulating (the job of the Pill), might be powerful enough to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting.
This irks me.
I mean, how convenient that you get to define pregnancy however you want and abortion how ever you want so that you can not do your job but still get to keep it and at my expense. I find that very, very irksome.
But what has me just fuming is this part (I quote at length so that you can see):
This is not Leavitt’s first foray into physician conscience issues, nor the first time he has come down on the side of denying patient care in favor of provider ideology. In March of this year, Leavitt issued a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists protesting the organization’s own statement on physician conscience, and asking that the statement not be used to withdraw board certifications from physicians who object to providing abortion or other care. Anti-choice organizations had been protesting the statement for months, demanding that ACOG “repudiate and withdraw” their conscience statement. It is not clear if the uproar from anti-choice organizations such as the Family Research Council is responsible for the topic coming to Leavitt’s attention.
In the current blog post, he frames the newly proposed regulations by referring to this incident:
“Several months ago, I became aware that certain medical specialty certification groups were adopting requirements which potentially violate a physician’s right to choose whether he or she performs abortion. I wrote to the organizations in question, protesting their actions. Frankly, I found their response to be dodgy and unsatisfying. I sent another letter, more of the same.”
In fact, ACOG is not responsible for board certifications, and the actual certifying body responded that Leavitt “took two and two and came up with five.” They also affirmed that the statement could not compel any physician to provide services to which she or he objected. In other words, certification was never in danger if physicians refused to perform abortions.
Yes, that’s right. Leavitt, with the weight and power of the government behind him and being in charge of Health and Human Services, took the ACOG to task over a function THEY DO NOT PERFORM.
This is not some average joe failing to understand the bureaucracy of the government and guessing wrong as to whom he should send his protest. This is the head bureaucrat.
And that offends me. It offends me so much that I about can’t even tell you. This guy doesn’t have his job because he’s the best person for it (or even a fine person for the job). He has his job because he furthers an ideology and won’t let basic things like facts (about what an abortion is or what constitutes pregancy) or who actually is responsible for what stand in his way.
I lose patience.
I can understand people who are against abortion because they believe it’s wrong to willfully end a form of human life. I can understand people who are against birth control, even, because they believe it’s their god’s decision about whether a sex act should lead to pregnancy, not theirs.
I disagree with those things, but I can understand and respect those positions.
They seem to me to be positions that could be held by thoughtful, concerned, deeply considerate people.
How, how in the world am I supposed to respect a public policy that is reducible to “healthcare providers should be allowed to believe any fool thing about when a pregnancy begins and what constitutes an abortion (a position I think is stupid but fine) and to inflict that upon you without any consequences.”
I mean, I’m just sitting here thinking that the vast, vast majority of health care providers know that birth control pills prevent ovulation and that pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg is implanted in a uterus. The vast, fast majority of health care providers also know, for instance, that cancer can kill you, but that it can be treated by drugs and/or surgery.
Would we sit idly by if a segment of society tried to argue that cancer wasn’t really deadly (maybe that it’s not the cancer that kills you, but other things that might seem like complications from cancer, but we can’t really say) or that there were other treatments for cancer than drugs and surgery and that an oncologist ought to have the freedom of conscience to refuse to give you drugs or operate on you, even if most other doctors would say that was the right course of action and that’s what you wanted?
I would hope not.
And would we accept that argument from a dude too stupid to figure out who he should be registering those complaints to in the first place?! When he runs the fucking joint?!
It’s offensive that we should have to take this just because it’s women’s health.