In 2008, former President George W. Bush issued a rule that forbade health care facilities that received federal money from discriminating against any health care professionals, simply because they refused to participate in medical procedures they found morally objectionable, such as abortion. The rule also protects health care professionals from being denied employment because of their objection to assist in an abortion.
President Obama wants to overturn that rule. In November, attorneys in the Obama administration disclosed in a document filed in federal court that the pro-abortion president wants to finalize a retraction of these conscience rules. The legal paper stated that the Department of Health and Human Services “hopes to have an internal draft final rule prepared in the near future.”
The Department of Health and Human Services filed a subsequent document in December, stating that “HHS expects to have a final rule published in the Federal Register within sixty to ninety days – i.e., as early as January 31, 2011, and no later than March 1, 2011.” Obama has been working to get these regulations overturned ever since he took office in 2009.
The Bush conscience rules were put in place as a means to inform those in the medical field, as well as the general public, about the rights of heath care professionals. The hope was that they would be able to treat patients in accordance with their conscience, but also to practice medicine without discrimination or intimidation. The regulations also provided medical professionals with a legal avenue if such discrimination ever occurred.
A case in point: in May 2009, nurse Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo was forced to participate in a late-term abortion at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. In November, a federal court decided that she had no right to sue her employer for forcing her to assist in the abortion. Although the hospital had full knowledge of her strong Pro-Life convictions, it continued to threaten her with disciplinary actions if she did not assist in the abortion.
Casey Mattox, an attorney with the Christian Legal Society, said that the rules are needed so that medical professionals have the protection of knowing they will not be pressured to participate in abortions. “Medical professionals should not be forced to perform abortions against their conscience. Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and their pro-abortion allies are seeking to punish pro-life medical professionals for their beliefs,” Mattox said. “Far from arguing for ‘choice,’ these lawsuits seek to compel health care workers to perform abortions or face dire consequences.”
Planned Parenthood and other parties are seeking to abolish the Bush regulations in the federal lawsuit of State of Connecticut v. United States of America. This is the case that sparked the documents that were filed by the Department of Health and Human Services and by the Obama Administration.
In a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, 46 members of the House of Representative have asked why HHS is seeking to revoke conscience shields for health care workers. “We strongly oppose any action that would undermine or eliminate the responsibility of HHS to enforce conscience laws that have been enacted by Congress for nearly four decades. The Implementing Regulations did not add to the substance of existing law, but required fund recipients to certify compliance with the law and more specifically committed HHS to enforce those laws as written.”
The action by President Obama to revoke regulations that protect Pro-Life doctors and nurses solidifies his pro-abortion stance and his alliance with the agenda of the pro-abortion left. With the Pro-Life legislation passing on state levels, he is looking to ensure the continued attack on Pro-Lifers at the federal level.