Friday, December 19, 2008

Bush Protects 'Right of Conscience' - Obama to Overturn

The Bush administration, in its final days, issued a federal rule Thursday reinforcing protections for doctors and other health care workers who refuse to participate in abortions and other procedures because of religious or moral objections.

UPDATE 1/15/09: Seven States Sue to Eliminate Bush 'Right of Conscience'

-- From "New rule for health providers stirs objections" by Kevin Freking, Associated Press Writer 12/18/08

Critics say the protections are so broad they limit a patient's right to get care and accurate information. For example, they fear the rule could make it possible for a pharmacy clerk to refuse to sell birth control pills without ramifications from an employer.

Under long-standing federal law, institutions may not discriminate against individuals who refuse to perform abortions or provide a referral for one. The administration's rule is intended to ensure that federal funds don't flow to providers who violate those laws, Health and Human Services officials said.

Several medical associations, more than 100 members of Congress, governors and 13 attorneys general were among the many thousands who wrote the department to protest the rule after it was proposed.

Several lawmakers have promised to take up legislation that would overturn the rule once Congress reconvenes in January. Another option is for the Obama administration to issue new regulations that would trump it. The rule will take effect on Jan. 18, two days before Obama takes office.

While campaigning in August, Obama criticized the proposal: "This proposed regulation complicates, rather than clarifies the law. It raises troubling issues about access to basic health care for women, particularly access to contraceptives," he said.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America said about 200,000 people submitted comments opposing the rule, including about 90,000 comments from its supporters.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.