For a couple of years, LifeEthics has covered the conscience of physicians and what it would mean if a doctor, nurse or hospital were to be forced to go against their consciences. My review is here.
From the LA Times, we learn that President Obama plans to rescind the ruling clarifying conscience laws in force in the US today:
Conscience’ rule on abortions may be overturned
The Obama administration wants to clarify a Bush policy that lets healthcare workers deny services because of moral beliefs.
By Noam N. Levey
February 27, 2009
Reporting from Washington — Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration today will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials.
The rollback of the so-called conscience rule comes just two months after the Bush administration announced it late last year in one of its final policy initiatives.
Inevitably, no matter what they say, the outcome will be to further politicize abortion and to force doctors to perform abortions and assisted suicide, force Catholic hospitals to allow abortions and sterilizations and – inevitably – physician assisted suicide.
Last month without official ceremony, Obama overturned a controversial ban on U.S. funding for international aid groups that provide abortion services.
The move by the Department of Health and Human Services to throw out the conscience rule is being made equally quietly as most of Washington focuses on the president’s blockbuster budget plan.
On Thursday officials stressed that before the administration finalizes the rollback, a standard 30-day comment period seeks input from people across the ideological spectrum.
“We believe that this is a complex issue that requires a thoughtful process where all voices can be heard,” said one official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about the policy change.
The officials said the administration would consider drafting a new rule to clarify what healthcare workers could reasonably refuse to do for their patients.
For more than 30 years, federal law has allowed doctors and nurses to decline to provide abortion services as a matter of conscience, a protection that is not subject to rule making.
In promulgating the rule last year, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said it was necessary to address discrimination in the medical field.
>I suspect that the US Catholic Bishiops (who control the Catholic hospitals, even those operated by women religious [sisters] or lay boards of directors, will close Catholic hospitals rather than provide morally reprehensible services by government decree.These closures would have profoundly deleterious effects on many communities but the utilitarian arguments (great good they do justifies small harm of a few abortions) would fall on deaf ears. I've also heard through the grape vine that some Catholic hospital systems (run by sisters) have plans to give up ownership of their hospitals in such a way that they remain open but do not have a Catholic identity.