In December, the Bush Administration issued a new health care rule that allows the religious views and morals of health care workers to trump those of patients. As the Los Angeles Times explained:
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.
Now the Washington Post reports that several groups, including Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU, have filed legal challenges to the new regulation in federal court.
For example, this rule would allow conscience-stricken pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for things like the Plan B emergency contraceptive or even normal birth control pills. According to the Post:
The regulation empowers federal officials to cut off federal funding for any state or local government, hospital, health plan, clinic or other entity that does not abide by existing federal laws requiring them to accommodate doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other employees who refuse to participate in any care they consider objectionable on ethical, moral or religious grounds…
"The regulation is important, because we increasingly are seeing discrimination against health-care personnel who hold religious beliefs having to do with abortion and contraception," said David Stevens, chief executive of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. "Unless these conscience rights are protected, people are going to be driven out of health care."
Driven out of health care? No one has a "right" to work as a pharmacist, nurse, doctor or receptionist at a hospital. Surely a pharmacy, fertility clinic, or stem cell lab has the right to fire or refuse to hire people whose consciences won't let them fulfill their job duties. And just why do the relgious views of health care workers get to trump those of patients? President-elect Obama has objected to this new regulation and he should strike it down as soon as possible.
Disclosure: Yes, despite many disagreements with its policies, I remain a card carryiing member of the ACLU.