Separate waiting and examination rooms, separate office space and equipment, separate entrances and exits . . . No, this is not a law from Alabama in the 1950s, it is part of a proposed ruling of the Health and Human Services Department that would divide the federally funded facilities from privately funded ones (for example, those used in connection with abortion) in public hospitals {front page, Aug. 30}.

But the phrasing is frighteningly reminiscent of other discriminatory laws from our history. And the effect is similar. Women choosing the option of abortion -- for whatever reason, including rape and physical danger to the mother -- will have to use separate hospital facilities, like second-class citizens. This ruling will also affect other patients, since separate billing systems, personnel and accounts for the two facilities will inevitably increase costs and decrease efficiency in these hospitals.

Another provision of the new rulings would prevent federally funded clinics from providing abortion counseling or referrals. In effect: economic discrimination preventing lower-income women using clinics from receiving the same information as their wealthier counterparts using private physicians.

A third provision of the rulings would prevent clinics receiving federal aid from lobbying for liberalized abortion laws or from using federal monies to pay dues to an organization that does. In other words, organizations in need of federal aid won't be able to exercise their right to democratic debate.

The questions raised by these proposed rulings go far beyond the abortion issue. Can a society be fully democratic when some of its citizens are relegated to separate, and perhaps second-class, health care? When those with lower incomes are not allowed access to the same information as wealthier individuals? When those disagreeing with the government's point of view (but not the law) are forced to choose between lobbying their elected representatives to change that point of view and providing health care services?

These rulings should frighten anyone aware of our constitutional rights; for, in attempting to support the administration's point of view, they threaten this country's essential democratic principles of public health care, equal education and free debate.

AMY DeLOUISE Silver Spring