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William Saletan on HHS Proposal

August 5, 2008

Yes, again on the proposed HHS rule that could define “human life” as a non-implanted fertilized egg and contraception as abortion. Today, William Saletan at Slate issues a letter to HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt on the proposed rule. Some highlights:

In addition, millions of Americans in the food-service industry face the threat of discrimination if they decline to participate in the provision of caffeinated beverages to women of childbearing age. Earlier this year, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published a study showing that “an increasing dose of daily caffeine intake during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of miscarriage.” The evidence suggests that drinking 10 ounces of coffee per day could double the probability of miscarriage.

Pregnancy is not externally visible until well into gestation. Nor is it sufficient to protect caffeine refusal to pregnant women only. The stated purpose of the draft proposed regulation is to protect human beings prior to implantation—in other words, prior to pregnancy. As mentioned above, there is no way to determine, prior to implantation, whether a woman is carrying a newly conceived human being. Therefore, to avoid the theoretical abortifacient risk, employees must be guaranteed the right to refuse caffeinated beverages to any woman who appears to be of childbearing age.

The letter is clearly intended to point out the ridiculousness of the proposed rule. Saletan concludes: “As research uncovers additional causes of miscarriage or preimplantation embryo loss, I look forward to further legislation against caffeine consumption, exercise, and other abortifacient activities among premenopausal women.”

Well, William, to be consistent with the HHS proposal, you wouldn’t need to make the things themselves illegal – you’d only have to legislate that nobody has to let women do anything. ever. that could hypothetically harm a fertilized egg. Women of childbearing age don’t need to buy cars, go to work, eat food, or leave the house, do they? Because it would be discrimination against people who sell cars, offer jobs, sell food, etc. to make them let women do those things.


Update: Amie Newman has a nice response to William over at RHRealityCheck.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2008 3:49 pm

    Both pieces are good, but the first commenter on Amie’s piece needs to take a basic health course. Since when do embryos implant?
    I don’t have enough Sanity Watchers points to deal with that now.

  2. August 5, 2008 3:56 pm

    No kidding, I just saw that comment. *pulls out hair*


  1. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Issues Blog Post on Proposed Regulation « Women’s Health News
  2. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt Issues Blog Post on Proposed Regulation | Our Bodies Our Blog

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