The 1600 Crew is again determined to undermine the public welfare for ideology, no matter what the cost to our society. As the former (and some present) DoJ idealogues and their schemes are revealed at painful Senate hearings, it seems that in another completely different arena the undercover idealogues are trying to assert their agenda and force a last-minute change in Health and Human Services rules to allow "health care workers" to discriminate against women (or anyone else) who desire reproductive services or any health care that the "worker" does not want to provide.

A Bush administration proposal aimed at protecting health-care workers who object to abortion, and to birth-control methods they consider tantamount to abortion, has escalated a bitter debate over the balance between religious freedom and patients’ rights.

So basically if the person you see in the ER objects to your request for treatment they can send you out the door … nice. The initial language is to "protect" workers who object to oh, say treating a rape victim or providing counseling for a pregnant teenager from being disciplined or discharged for not performing their job on some ideological grounds. I guess that using this rule, those workers in the NY hospital could claim that they were obeying a religious or moral injunction to not provide assistance to a person of color suffering from dementia in an ER because the Flying Spaghetti Monster appeared to them and said that the Earth would be better off without geriatric dementia patients here and they would be "protected". Religious freedom and all…

The language of the HHS rule also apparently codifies for the first time a definition in a federal regulation what abortion is, something that the wingnut "pro-lifers" have wanted for literally decades.

…Because of its wide scope and because it would — apparently for the first time — define abortion in a federal regulation as anything that affects a fertilized egg, the regulation could raise questions about a broad spectrum of scientific research and care, critics say.

So, by essentially executive fiat the religious wingnuts are going to win a major battle with little to no fanfare by enacting this rule as some kind of "protection" of their religious freedom. It doesn’t matter if the long-term outcome is not helpful in terms of research, or the short term outcome might bring harm to a patient (and the axiom "first, do no harm" means what, exactly?) as long as a wingnut can’t be prosecuted or let go from their employment for not doing the job they were hired for… well, that’s alright then. Dead girl 0, protected wingnut 1 and that’s okey-dokey with the idealogues in charge.

This has now become a "right" of the wingnut right to expect protection in the law for misbehavior that will affect the public good, as long as it does not conflict with their perception of the world as it ought to be…

"This is causing a lot of distress," said one NIH researcher who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. "It’s a redefinition of abortion that does not match any of the current medical definitions. It’s ideologically based and not based on science and could interfere with the development of many new therapies to treat diseases."

Ideologically based? Now there’s a shocker…

The regulation would require any entity receiving HHS funding to certify that it does not discriminate against organizations or individuals who do not want to provide services they consider objectionable.

So the subjective criteria of what providers consider "objectionable" is the test under this regulation. Gosh… and with legislators like Short-ride Joe there to help HHS along, there’s already the mindset that someone else will help an unfortunate rape victim or provide counseling or services in a time of need.

January can’t come fast enough, but for now Congress needs to get on this and hold hearings with HHS to prevent this from becoming "law" until a new administration has a chance to review it. The usual democratic letter-writing campaign is not going to be effective… the adminstration at all levels and positions is spring-loaded to just toss any letter signed by a Democrat into the shredder… no matter where it originates. Heckuva job, Nancy. I’m sure that anyone who might be affected by this rule will be happy to know that there was once a strenuous Dem-led letter writing campaign to ensure their rights.