The XX Factor

Health Care Workers Can No Longer Deny Contraception to Women

It’s been a terrible week to have a uterus. From redefining rape to defunding family planning services , Republicans continue to fight a breathless battle against women’s bodies. Shortly before Congress voted to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding today, the Health and Human Services Department delivered a rare piece of good news. According to the Washington Post ,

The Obama administration rescinded most of a federal regulation Friday designed to protect health workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on personal or religious grounds. The Health and Human Services Department eliminated nearly the entire rule … that was widely interpreted as allowing such workers to opt out of a broad range of medical services, such as providing the emergency contraceptive Plan B, treating gay men and lesbians and prescribing birth control to single women.

Abortion, of course, is still subject to conscience protections. The new regulation would leave in place the 30-year-old policy permitting health care workers to opt out of providing abortions due to personal, moral, or religious beliefs. Hospitals and clinics risk losing federal funds if they do not comply.

It’s a small victory, to be sure, but in the present political climate, it feels like a major triumph. Obama’s muscular policy shift serves as a much-needed rebuke to the rising tide of dangerously misogynistic legislation coming out of Congress.