March 5, 2024

Last-minute conscience rule grants protection to abortion objectors

Doctors, clinics, receptionists and others can refuse to give care they find morally objectionable

As a parting shot at
the Obama Administration’s support for abortion, the Bush
Administration has issued a regulation which confirms the right of
federally funded health care providers to decline to participate in
procedures to which they have a conscientious objection. It is timed
to take effect one day before the new president is inaugurated.
Although it will almost certainly be undone by the incoming
administration, this may take months.

Doctors and other
health care providers should not be forced to choose between good
professional standing and violating their conscience,” Health and
Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt explained. “This rule
protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in
accord with their conscience.”

The role of
conscientious objection is currently under attack in the US. For
instance, Dr Anne Drapkin Lyerly, chair of the ethics committee at
the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, recently told the
President’s Council on Bioethics that the reproductive health needs
of women who want an abortion should trump the moral qualms of

Many health care
providers routinely face pressure to change their medical practice –
often in direct opposition to their personal convictions,” said HHS
Assistant Secretary of Health, Admiral Joxel Garcia. “During my
practice as an OB-GYN, I witnessed this first-hand. Health care
providers shouldn’t have to check their consciences at the hospital
door. Fortunately, Congress enacted several laws to that end, but too
many are unaware these protections exist.”

Critics of the
last-minute regulation claim that it is too broad and could endanger
patients. According to the
Los Angeles
, they are particularly worried
that patients will not be given full and complete information about
medical options. For example, an anti-abortion doctor in a
federally-funded clinic might refuse to inform a pregnant patient
that her foetus had a severe abnormality. Or an doctor might withhold
information about emergency contraception if a woman had been raped.
Dec 18
; Los
Angeles Times, Dec 19

2 thoughts on “Last-minute conscience rule grants protection to abortion objectors

  1. Laurel, the issue is not just about you and your body. It’s also about women taking responsibility for the natural outcome of sexual activity. Yes women have rights but they also have a duty to be responsible for the welfare of those conceived through her choice to engage in sexual activity.

  2. I am tired of fighting the same battles over and over. When will women be valued and that they are able to make decisions for themselves and for their bodies. Frustration!

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