Loading
Obama administration rolls back medical workers' conscience protections
By Benjamin Mann
Obama administration rolls back medical workers' conscience protections

.- President Obama's Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, issued new regulations on Feb. 17, canceling out numerous conscience protections for health care workers who have moral or religious objections to certain procedures.

The new rules claim to leave in place the protections for health care providers who oppose abortion and sterilization. However, they remove many other protections for caregivers, including those who are morally opposed to providing services such as in vitro fertilization, contraception – including chemical contraceptives that can cause an abortion – and facilitating sexual practices they consider wrong.

In her report describing the changes, Sebelius criticizes the Bush-era regulations, which clarified the rights of many conscientious objectors to opt of procedures, as “unclear and potentially overly broad in scope.”

Sebelius acknowledged in the final report that “a substantial number of comments in opposition to rescinding the 2008 Final Rule maintained that Roman Catholic hospitals would have to close, that rescission of the rule would limit access to pro-life counseling, and that providers would either leave the health care industry or choose not to enter it.”

In her Feb. 17 report, Sebelius sought to respond to Catholic health workers' concerns by noting that “under this partial rescission of the 2008 Final Rule, Roman Catholic hospitals will still have the same statutory protections afforded to them as have been for decades.”

However, it was precisely in order to solidify those decades-old “statutory protections” in significant ways, that the 2008 rule was made in the first place.

“The Department supports the longstanding federal health care provider conscience laws,” the secretary continued, “and with this Final Rule provides a clear process to enforce those laws.”

The purpose of the 2008 rule, however, was not simply to reiterate the content of existing laws, but to clarify how they should be applied, and to provide explicitly for their enforcement.

For this reason, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had praised the previous rule as a “much-needed implementation of long-standing laws” – saying it clarified many “undefined terms” that allowed state and local governments to  “attack conscience rights as though they do not exist.”

With those “much-needed” rules and clarifications gone, Catholic hospitals and health care workers may find themselves facing difficult situations without explicit protections.

Sebelius pointed out that her department would still be willing to receive and consider their complaints. 

The portion of the 2008 rule that enables the Office for Civil Rights to investigate complaints from conscientious medical objectors is “being retained,” she said.

“Under this Final Rule,” she offered, “health care providers who believe their rights were violated will now be able to file a complaint with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights in order to seek enforcement of those rights.”

Dr. J. Scott Ries, a board-certified family physician and a vice president of ministry at the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association, said the rule change touched on areas of “critical concern for pro-life patients, healthcare professionals and institutions.”

“The administration has made changes in a vital civil rights regulation without evidence or justification,” Dr. Ries said. He criticized the regulatory action as a move that “diminishes the civil rights that protect conscientious physicians and other healthcare professionals against discrimination.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees
Papal Foundation Pilgrimage
Exorcism or prayer of liberation?
Jul
23

Liturgical Calendar

July 23, 2014

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:1-9

Gospel
Date
07/23/14
07/20/14
07/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 1:1, 4-10
Gospel:: Mt 13: 1-9

Saint of the Day

St. John Cassian »

Saint
Date
07/23/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:1-9

Homily
Date
07/23/14
07/21/14
07/20/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: