Today marks the end of a 30-day comment period in which the public could voice their opinion to the Department of Health and Human Services about the Obama administration rescinding the “conscience clause.”
The “conscience clause” was put in place by President Bush in his final days in office. According to LifeNews.com under this rule “workers in health-care settings — from doctors to janitors — can refuse to provide services, information or advice to patients on subjects such as contraception, family planning, blood transfusions and even vaccine counseling if they are morally against it.”
The federal regulation was meant to give protection to doctors and health care professionals that refuse medical procedures, such as an abortion, because it goes about their moral convictions.
Now President Obama is moving quickly to rescind this regulation. In an article by Carol Conn of The Heritage Foundation she cites an Obama Health and Human Services official who said the reason for the possible rescission is; “We’ve been concerned that the way the Bush rule is written, it could make it harder for women to get the care they need. It is worded so vaguely that some have argued it could limit family-planning counseling and even potentially blood transfusions and end-of-life care.”
But many doctors aren’t buying this response. Yesterday at The National Press Club a group of healthcare professionals, pharmacists, doctors and medical students gathered to say that they would stop practicing medicine or refuse to go into a career in medicine if President Obama rescinds the “conscience clause.”
“Rescinding these regulations is dangerous for patients,” said Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, “they may soon find a sign hanging on the door of their doctor’s office or hospital stating, ‘Out of business. Wouldn’t do abortions.”
Also, during this news conference, the group Freedom2Care, which is comprised of 36 organizations, released polling data that found the majority of healthcare providers are against the rescission of the “conscience clause.” The polling company, WomanTrend, conducted the survey on behalf of the Christian Medical Association.
The nationwide survey polled adults 18 and over and found that 87% of them believe that “it is important to make sure that healthcare professionals in America are not forced to participate in procedures and practices to which they have moral objections.” Fifty-seven percent of American adults also opposed “regulations that require medical professionals to perform or provide procedures to which they have moral of ethical objections.”
The survey also found that “56 percent of adults who said they voted for President Obama last fall and 60 percent of respondents who self-identified as ‘pro-choice’ said they favor this two-month old conscience protection rule.”
Even some of Obama’s supporters are against the rescission. This might hurt his approval ratings and the ratings of other politicians that choose to go along with it. Forty-three percent of those polled who voted for Obama said that they would be less likely to support a Member of Congress if they opposed the conscience clause.
Catholic hospitals make up about 20 percent of hospitals in America and to get rid of the conscience rule would mean that a large portion of healthcare professionals would not be protected in exercising their right to practice according to their moral beliefs.
Freedom2Care has sent a letter to Obama, signed by over 30 healthcare professionals, asking him to meet with them and listen to their concerns. The letter also sums up the dilemma that this overruling would create. Healthcare providers would “be forced to choose between [their] profession and honoring [their] conscience” if there is not adequate protection under the law.