Sunday, June 7, 2009

Conscience Rule Still on the Books

Like Barbara Coombs Lee of the Huffington Post, I cannot be silent about the fact that the Obama Administration has not yet rescinded this onerous regulation, that puts the consciences of anyone working in and around the medical fields above those of the women of this nation.
"Most physicians believe that even if they object to a legal treatment, they still have a duty to tell the patient it is available. After all, how can patients make informed decisions about their various treatment options if their doctors refuse to disclose all treatment options? But a good number of morality-driven doctors said they don't tell patients about the treatments they find morally objectionable. The HHS authorities (under Secretary Leavitt) clearly wanted to protect them by establishing a provider's right to withhold crucial information.

Before this rule went into effect, it was unlikely that people with strong objections to certain medical treatments would choose to work in a hospital or clinic where the treatments occur. With the "conscience regulation in place, that may no longer be the case in that the rule may now urge ideologues into action. It encourages them to go to work where they can impose their beliefs on the maximum number of medical patients."

With all the attention on the economy, not much is being paid to whether our new HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is taking any action to rescind this regulation. A search on Google, however, reveals that those who wish to impose their religious ideologies on others are quite active in their attempts to retain the regulation on the books.

I'm sorry, but I personally view Leavitt's "conscience regulation" as not just a threat to the reproductive health of women, but a first step in the subjugation of women in our society. This regulation is far too broad and affects more than just the singular issue of "abortion." It impacts the full range of women's reproductive health issues, from the ability to obtain effective contraception, to seeking invitro fertilization, to obtaining information about alternative reproductive treatments, to family planning counselling, to the "morning-after" pill, to obtaining tubal ligation procedures, to stem cell research, to referrals, to you name it.

A number of Federal rules/regulations already shield health care workers from participating in services they find objectionable. They're able to step back and let another staff member take their place in handling objectional procedures. However, using the new regulation protections, they can now impose their religious beliefs on others, by denying treatment, by denying information, by denying coverage, and by denying access to prescriptions. Something's very, very wrong with that premise and that's not what I grew up believing America was all about.

The deadline for submitting comments related to the rescission of Leavitt's "conscience regulation" expired on April 9, 2009. Today is June 7,2009. I wonder how long it's going to take them to make their decision?

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