“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.”   ~Hans Rosling*

A federal judge recently put a halt to the implementation of the ‘Domestic Gag Rule.’  I had written about the importance of contacting our representatives when the House and Senate were considering it, and I know from your numerous replies that many of you did.  Thanks to all who took to time to reach out.

The first I heard of this judge’s action was on April 24, and that week my inbox was flooded with different messages about it from the many groups I follow regarding reproductive health issues.  I was elated by the news, even though nothing is permanent with this decision.  It’ll now be tied up in courts, but the rule was scheduled to take effect May 3, so if nothing else, this delay is a start. I became eager to read how the mainstream media were reporting it.

They weren’t.
I waited.  And waited.  This is such huge, important news, yet the media aren’t covering it.  

Contemplating the silence on this vital issue brought to mind the above quote from Hans Rosling’s book—which I had recently read—and got me thinking a lot about how the public learns about reproductive health issues.

Next, my inbox was hit with horrifying news about the Department of Health and Human Service’s new “Refusal of Care” Rule.  It provides powerful new tools that expand the power of individuals and organizations in the health care field to refuse to provide care and referrals based on their own religious beliefs.  In other words, it allows increased discrimination in health care by putting providers’ rights to act according to their religious beliefs above patients’ rights to get health care.  Although it is already tied up in court, this is a dangerous signal of what lies ahead.  

According to the recent Policy Analysis from the Guttmacher Institute:
“Through the final rule, HHS grants its Office of Civil Rights and its new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division sweeping enforcement powers to impose its extreme interpretation of federal refusal laws on health care institutions, state and local governments, foreign governments and international agencies.”
They end their analysis: “…the continued effort to stretch federal refusal of care laws to their limits and beyond highlights the need for Congress to reassess those laws.  The bottom line is that policymakers must ensure that the fundamental American value of religious liberty is never abused to give individuals and organizations the right to impose their beliefs on others, to block patients from receiving information and care, or to discriminate.”  

Unfortunately, this rule will allow precisely that.

Although this issue got more press coverage than the halted “Domestic Gag Rule,” it still concerns me that this new rule—which will literally put peoples’ lives and health at risk—isn’t getting the headlines and depth of coverage that it warrants.

I urge my readers to regularly contact our elected representatives, letting them know that we are counting on them to ensure reproductive health care to all citizens, and that this must be a national priority.  I similarly encourage everyone to talk about these important issues: we need to keep them on the front burner.