Rescinding Health-Care Workers Refuge

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2009 at 4:12 PM

           During their closing months, the Bush administration and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), led by Secretary Michael Leavitt at the time, implemented regulations to protect health-care workers, who had ethical convictions against abortions, from being forced to perform them.

            On February 27 of this year, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced it was reviewing an HHS proposal to lift these regulations. The Washington Post reported, once the office has reviewed the proposal it will be published in the Federal Register, opening a 30-day period for public comment. An unidentified HHS official told the Post, “We are proposing rescinding the Bush rule.”

            The HHS official told the Post that the Bush rules are too broadly written and that the Obama administration supports a “tightly written conscience clause.” These rules apply to only the facilities that receive federal funding. “We recognize and understand that some providers have objections about abortion, and we want to make sure that current law protects them,” the HHS official said. “We want to be thoughtful about this.”

            It is interesting to me that this official says, “We want to be thoughtful” about taking the physicians freedom to abstain from performing abortions away, yet they are, (same person’s words again) “proposing rescinding the Bush rule.” The Bush rule is being thoughtful. This is contradictory. This isn’t good.

            David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, said in a statement that rescinding the rules would negatively impact thousands of pro-life healthcare workers. “We hear a lot of rhetoric from abortion advocates about the government not interfering with the physician-patient relationship,” Stevens said. “Why is this argument no longer employed when the physician and the patient disagree with abortion on demand? It would appear that for all the abortion ‘choice’ rhetoric, ‘choice’ is really a one-way street. When it comes to pro-life individuals, abortion choice quickly turns into abortion mandate.”



  1. I see no reason not to take HHS at their word. Just because the department of a Democratic administration is rescinding the rule of a Republican one doesn’t mean that the rule won’t be replaced with a similar one. This seems like a non-issue which the pro-life activists groups are seizing on to fire up the base.

  2. I respect that opinion and do see you perspective. However, Do you see the problem with mandating Health Care Workers to perform abortion, what they believe to be murder?

  3. If they’re going to simply change the wording on the ruling, I trust that the rule’s basic purpose will remain the same. “Rescinding” doesn’t mean the same thing as “Permanently removing,” which this article seems to assume. This is more of a “wait-and-see” situation for me, as I am pro-choice but support conscience clauses. If a new rule doesn’t replace the old one, you will have a valid claim to inequality. Until then, however, this seems like a knee-jerk reaction piece.

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