Theocratic Health Care


The Bush Administration is shoveling "midnight regulations" out the doors of agencies faster than a New Hampshire homeowner does snow off his sidewalk in January. One of the most egregious is a new regulation by the Health and Human Services Department that allows the morals of health care providers to trump those of patients. As the Los Angeles Times reports:

The Bush administration announced its "conscience protection" rule for the healthcare industry Thursday, giving doctors, hospitals, and even receptionists and volunteers in medical experiments the right to refuse to participate in medical care they find morally objectionable.

"This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience," said outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

The right-to-refuse rule includes abortion and other aspects of healthcare where moral concerns could arise, Leavitt's office said, such as birth control, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and assisted suicide.

In addition, such "health care providers" may not have to refer patients to other practitioners who would respect the moral choices of patients. 

reason warned that this was coming:

Can pharmacies, stem cell labs, or abortion clinics refuse to hire people who believe their activities are evil? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services doesn't think so. The agency is circulating draft regulations that would outlaw employment discrimination on the grounds of religious and moral beliefs by any entity that receives the department's money.

Since Washington's subsidies are so ubiquitous, the rule would apply even to local pharmacies, because the feds pay for some prescriptions. In effect, the government's money is serving as a Trojan horse for the administration's moral agenda.

And reason noted that there was a simple solution for those whose consciences might be offended:

"Religious freedom is an important part of the history of this country," Richard S. Myers, a professor at Ave Maria School of Law, told The Washington Post. "People who have a religious or moral belief should not be forced to participate in an act they find abhorrent." Myers is correct. But why should the religious beliefs of others trump those of patients and employers? People who don't want to participate in medical procedures they find abhorrent have a simple solution: They can choose to work elsewhere.

Whole LAT article here