A very novel idea to outlaw abortion AND contraception simultaneously. Gotta give it to them. They're working long and hard to rid the world of 'free sex'. Treating the Pill as Abortion, Draft Regulation Stirs Debate By STEPHANIE SIMON July 31, 2008; Page A11 Set aside the fraught question of when human life begins. The new debate: When does pregnancy begin? The Bush Administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion. A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying "the life of a human being." Many medical groups disagree. They hold that pregnancy isn't established until several days after conception, when the fertilized egg has grown to a cluster of several dozen cells and burrowed into the uterine wall. Anything that disrupts that process, in their view, is contraception. The draft regulation, circulating within the Department of Health and Human Services, would have no immediate effect on the legality of the pill or the IUD if implemented because abortion is legal. But opponents fear it would undercut dozens of state laws designed to promote easy access to these methods of birth control, used by more than 12 million women a year. Dozens of Congressional Democrats -- including presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama -- have signed letters of protest blistering the proposal. His Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, declined to comment. A RIGHT OF CONSCIENCE Who should be allowed to exercise the right of conscience? Read opinions2 on both sides of the debate, on WSJ.com's Front Lines3. Administration supporters say the left's concerns are overblown and very few women would have real difficulty getting birth control. Still, some on the religious right are hoping the regulation would create some obstacles. If the draft regulation were to prompt some insurance companies to drop coverage for prescription birth control, "that would be fantastic," said Tom McClusky, a strategist with the conservative Family Research Council. The draft could still be revised or rejected. Or the administration could enact it at any point; no congressional approval is needed. (The next president could just as easily reverse it.) Legal challenges would likely hold up the regulation's enforcement, but even so, the religious right -- a key Republican constituency in this election season -- could claim an important victory as their views would be embedded in federal law. The regulation's stated purpose is to improve enforcement of existing federal laws that protect some medical professionals' right to refuse to participate or assist in abortion. In a lengthy preamble entitled "The Problem," the draft argues that state laws too often coerce health-care workers into providing services they find immoral. Among the laws considered coercive: Requirements that emergency rooms offer rape victims the morning-after pill, insurance plans cover contraception as part of prescription-drug benefits, and pharmacists fill prescriptions for birth control. The draft regulation would weaken these laws by expanding the right of conscientious objection. The White House said the administration "has an obligation to enforce" that right and is "exploring a number of options." If the regulation is enacted, insurers, hospitals, HMOs and other institutions could claim that a law requiring them to dispense contraception or subsidize an IUD discriminated against their religious convictions. State and local governments would have to certify in writing that they don't practice such discrimination. Those who didn't comply could lose federal funding or be sued for damages. The draft also extends the conscience objection to most staff members and volunteers working for health-care providers. So, for instance, an employer couldn't punish a clinic receptionist for refusing to make appointments for patients seeking birth-control pills. "It's pernicious," said Janet Crepps, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights. "A few individuals could mess up the whole system." Barr Pharmaceuticals, which makes oral contraceptives, took issue with the idea that its products cause abortions and added that "an individual's conscience should not prevent the timely dispensing of these products." With its expansive definitions, the draft bolsters a key goal of the religious right: to give single-cell fertilized eggs full rights by defining them as legal people -- or, as some activists put it, "the tiniest boys and girls." As long as Roe v. Wade remains in effect and abortion remains legal, that goal can't be fully realized. But in recent years, abortion opponents have scored notable successes. For instance: Several states now define a fertilized egg as a legal person -- an "unborn child" -- for purposes of fetal homicide laws, which allow criminal prosecution when a woman miscarries as a result of an assault. In South Dakota, abortion doctors must tell patients -- whatever their stage of pregnancy -- that they will be "terminating the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being" with whom they have an "existing relationship." In Colorado, voters this fall will weigh a state constitutional amendment that would confer full personhood on fertilized eggs, as well as embryos and fetuses. And embryonic stem-cell research is restricted through a variety of state and federal policies. Even if the draft is never implemented, activists on both sides consider it a potential momentum shift. "You keep striking away and framing the issue the way you want to frame it," said David DeWolf, a law professor at Gonzaga University who has advised anti-abortion groups. "That's the political strategy."