Obama Moves to Overturn Bush Health Care "Conscience" Rule


On its way out the Bush Administration issued new regulations that would possibly outlaw stem cell labs, fertility clinics, abortion clinics, and pharmacies from firing employees who objected to their medical services for reasons of conscience. According to the Washington Post:

The Obama administration has begun the process of rescinding sweeping new federal protections that were granted in December to health-care workers who refuse to provide care that violates their personal, moral or religious beliefs.

The Office of Management and Budget announced this morning that it was reviewing a proposal to lift the controversial "conscience" regulation, the first step toward reversing the policy. Once the OMB has reviewed the proposal it will be published in Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period.

"We are proposing rescinding the Bush rule," said an official with the Health and Human Services Department, which drafted the rule change.

The administration took the step because the regulation was so broadly written that it could provide protections to health-care workers who object not only to abortion but also to a wide range of health-care services, said the HHS official, who asked not to be named because the process had just begun.

As I noted in Reason

"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.