Several times over the last few months, I've warned that the Bush administration's "right of conscience" regulation would be issued any day now, but this time it appears to be soon soon -- as in, by the end of this week. The upshot: Since "it will take effect 30 days after being issued," the rule limiting women's access to abortion, birth control and basic healthcare will become law before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, and "his administration won't be able to undo it easily," reports the Wall Street Journal.
This gloom and doom is thankfully accompanied by the WSJ's look at the repro-rights changes we can actually look forward to from the next administration. Many expect Obama to lift restrictions on funding for embryonic stem cell research, restore family planning funding for the United Nations Population Fund, overturn the "global gag rule," which restricts foreign recipients of family planning aid from providing abortions, and, if it's passed by Congress, sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a federal law that would protect women's right to choose.
I know, I know -- those possibilities only temporarily distract from the deeply depressing "conscience" rule. On that front, you just might want to lace up your metaphorical hiking boots, because there's a long journey ahead: "The rule could be blocked by Congress, or Health and Human Services could begin the laborious process of issuing a new regulation reversing course. Officials close to [Obama's] transition have signaled that they intend to begin the regulatory process anew."