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Bush Abortion Proposal Strikes Nerves In Missouri



November 24, 2008

St. Louis, MO - An abortion debate has ignited, as the Bush administration stands ready to put into effect a new rule that would deny funding to medical centers that require employees to participate in abortion procedures against their religious or moral beliefs. The rule could even extend to birth control, if the person believed it was tantamount to abortion.

Pro-lifers praise the rule, saying current laws prohibiting discrimination based on religion don't go far enough to protect employees. Pro-choice advocates disagree, citing top members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who have called the new rule unnecessary. Paula Gianino of St. Louis Planned Parenthood says the rule is a veiled attempt to limit abortions by creating a new obstacle, one that could present a legal risk when hiring medical personnel.

"We do not want to be the target of anti-choice activists coming to apply for jobs, and then if they're not hired, embroiling us in costly, unnecessary and unfair litigation."

Gianino says Planned Parenthood of St. Louis would even consider a hiring freeze to avoid potential discrimination lawsuits. She also says that the proposed rule is an effort by President Bush to make good on promises made during his presidency.

"It's an unfortunate parting gift by President Bush to very extremist and angry, anti-choice, anti-abortion groups who simply feel they just haven't gotten enough from the President."

President Bush has until midnight Friday to publish new rules in order for them to take effect before Barack Obama is sworn in. Congress could reverse those rules through a Congressional Review Act, and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have already introduced legislation that would prevent the rule from going into effect.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO