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Friday, August 22, 2008

Rule to Boost Doctors' "Right of Conscience"

In a new memo, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced proposed regulations that seek to strengthen and protect health-care providers' “right of conscience”—in other words, their right to refuse to provide certain treatments or procedures, like abortions, for religious or moral reasons. There are already a number of laws that prohibit doctors and hospitals from discriminating against health-care workers who opt of such treatments, but HHS wants federally funded institutions to certify in writing their compliance with the laws, making it easier, in essence, for doctors to opt out of abortions. “Doctors and other health-care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” says Mike Leavitt, HHS secretary. “Freedom of expression and action should not be surrendered upon the issuance of a health-care degree.”
Many, however, worry the regulation is so sweeping, as well as vague in its use of the term "abortion," that it could also affect access to contraception.
The stronger protections stand in stark contrast to new draft guidelines from the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Ontario, a regulating body in Canada, which would no longer allow doctors in the province to refuse to perform treatments and procedures that go against their religious or moral conscience. If passed, doctors who opt out of such treatments will face disciplinary action. —Heather Wax


Anonymous said...

So, does that mean I can opt out of issuing hunting and fishing licenses at work too? I'm a vegetarian and do not morally believe in these things. So, that means I should be allowed to tell people no on that too, right?