The Bush administration on Thursday proposed stronger job protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions because of religious or moral objections.
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said that health care professionals should not face retaliation from employers or from medical societies because they object to abortion.
Abortion foes called it a victory for the First Amendment, but abortion rights supporters said they feared the rule could stretch the definition of abortion to include birth control, and served notice that they intend to challenge the administration.
"It's deeply troubling and unfortunate that President Bush should fire this parting shot at women's access to basic health care in the waning days of his administration," said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. "Time and time again, he has put political and ideological concerns above the best interests of the American people, and this is yet another example.
"We continue to be very concerned about the scope and impact of this proposed rule. It leaves open the possibility that institutions and individuals can deny access to birth control and permits individuals to refuse to provide even counseling about basic heath care services."
I'm sure the timing of this has nothing whatsoever to do with the upcoming election. It's surely just a coincidence that this wedge issue rears its ugly head just in time to fire up the right-wing lunatics who otherwise would have no reason to come out and vote. It's not like Republicans use the issue of abortion for political gain every four years or anything.