Posted by: theheartlander | February 21, 2011

Sebelius threatens medical professionals’ freedom of conscience

We predicted this would happen. One of the most offensive elements of ObamaCare has been the lack of conscience protections for medical professionals. Those of us who raised the issue all through 2009 were repeatedly told, essentially, not to worry our pretty little heads about it.

Well, we were correct all along. The Obama administration is indeed rolling back medical conscience protections. It’s par for the course in the Obama administration’s strategy of blitzing us with regulations to impose things that Congress would never consent to. Catholic News Agency reports:

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.

Another problem area could be assisted suicide, in the states that have legalized it. Christian and other pro-life nurses, pharmacists and other health workers could be forced to make a choice between abetting the killing or being fired from their jobs.

From Down on the Pharm:

Obama has returned the situation to its previous state:  toothless conscience legislation, nearly unenforceable because unemployed health care professionals usually lack funds to bring civil redress when incidents of discrimination occur. Also, what remains of “protection” will only apply to what is obviously recognized as abortion to a layman, and sterilization.  Objection to chemical abortions at the early stages of human development, and use of various biotech medical devices, unethically derived drugs, vaccines, transplants, implants (from killed humans) will not be covered.

Actually the situation is worse than it was previously, as the department of Health and Human Services [under Kathleen Sebelius] has utterly no interest in hearing or cataloging incidents of discrimination.

Among the hardest hit by the new regulations may be pharmacists, many of whom have been fired for their refusal to fill prescriptions for abortifacient forms of birth control. CNA continues:

For this reason, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had praised the previous [2008] rule… saying it clarified many “undefined terms” that [had] allowed state and local governments to  “attack conscience rights as though they do not exist.”

With those “much-needed” rules and clarifications gone, Catholic [and other pro-life] 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.”

In other words, after you’ve been fired from your job, then you can file a complaint. Much good may it do you!

The Catholic Medical Association had this to say about the new regulation:

HHS’s promises to review complaints submitted to the Office of Civil Rights and to provide education on respect for conscience rights ring hollow in light of their decision to cut out the very definitions and tools to achieve these ends contained in the original [Bush-era] Rule.

Since the action of HHS does not provide the strong and clear protection that health care providers need, the CMA calls upon Congress and all people of good will to work to provide meaningful protections of this most fundamental human and civil right.

The CMA said that it will be issuing additional statements on the HHS Final Rule following further legal analysis.

Dr. J. Scott Ries of the 16,000-member Christian Medical and Dental 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.

[boldface mine — because we really do need to get across to people that this is a civil rights issue!]

The Heritage Foundation’s blog, The Foundry, has the most thorough analysis of the new regulations and what they will mean for everyone in the medical field.

This is precisely the kind of issue the drafters of the Manhattan Declaration of Christian Conscience had in mind. Have you signed it yet? Go here if you haven’t.

Remember those three core values in the declaration?  This latest attack by the Obama Administration violates two of the three — the same two, actually, that were ranked highest by America’s Founders and Framers. The Declaration of Independence affirms as inalienable the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Note which one comes first — for obvious reasons.

And in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the very first of the five freedoms that are held to be sacred is the freedom of religion — again, for obvious reasons; freedom of conscience is basic to all other freedoms. If the government has the power even to force a person to violate their own conscience, what power does it not have?

Looks like this could be where the rubber meets the road.

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