Skip to comments.Some Docs Resist Repeal Of Bush-Era Abortion Regs
Posted on 07/07/2009 11:48:42 AM PDT by presidio9
Some doctors who oppose abortion say that if President Obama repeals controversial Bush administration regulations that allow doctors to refuse to provide care that conflicts with their beliefs, they would rather quit their practice than provide care that violates their conscience.
Doctors who oppose abortion and, in some cases, birth control pills say they may stop providing care if the Obama administration follows through on threats to repeal controversial Bush administration regulations aimed at allowing health care workers to refuse to provide care that conflicts with their beliefs. Opponents of the rules point out that those health care workers have plenty of other protections to fall back on.
According to a survey conducted for the Christian Medical Association, "90 percent of those surveyed said they will quit their practices before violating their conscience," said David Stevens, the group's executive director. Repealing the rules, which officially took effect on former President Bush's final day in office, said Stevens, "sends a clear message: It's open season on health care professionals of conscience discriminate at will."
But not so fast, says Nancy Berlinger, deputy director of the Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank in Garrison, N.Y. "Conscience clauses are on the books in almost every state," she said, in addition to being codified in a series of federal laws.
Most date back to the early 1970s, after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade.
"The idea was that when abortion moved from being an illegal procedure, therefore something that you did not offer in a hospital, to being a legal procedure, therefore something that you might offer in a hospital, there was a move to protect providers usually framed as physicians, but sometimes they're more generally written from having to participate in abortions," Berlinger said.
But conscience laws are not always abortion-specific. Many reference sterilization; some are silent, allowing practitioners to exercise their right to opt out of providing sometimes controversial end-of-life care, in vitro fertilization, or even some birth control pills that some practitioners insist cause very early abortions by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in a woman's uterus.
Joxel Garcia, who was assistant secretary for health in the Bush administration and helped write the regulations now at issue, said they're needed because so few health workers even know that protections exist. He didn't, he said, when he was applying to be a medical resident in obstetrics and gynecology in the late 1980s and was told point-blank not to apply to certain programs if he wouldn't do abortions.
"I didn't know at that time that those facilities that were receiving federal funds were not supposed to discriminate against me because I did not perform terminations of pregnancy or abortions," he said.
Garcia also said the regulations give health care workers "a mechanism to seek help" through the Department of Health and Human Services.
But Berlinger, like many other opponents of the rules, thinks they are so vague that they would let any health worker object to providing any service at any time for any reason even reasons that don't necessarily stand up to scientific scrutiny.
"Words like belief," she said, "when you talk about them in the context of health care, aren't just anything you might think of. They have to be defensible. And a false belief about science or the promotion of ambiguity where things can be disambiguated," as in the idea that birth control is equal to abortion, "is not ethical."
All of which puts the Obama administration in a tight spot. President Obama has been eager to find a middle ground in the touchy abortion debate. Administration officials can try to rewrite the rules, which will undoubtedly anger abortion-rights and other women's health groups. Or they can repeal them, which will anger anti-abortion groups.
A decision is expected later this summer.
The technical question I have here is: what comes of it if Obama no longer tells his agencies to obey the law? If they then disobey the law, who has standing to bring action against them?
It is good to see that President Bush saw these rules as so important that he wasted no time and implemented them on the very
first last day of his administration.
“If they then disobey the law, who has standing to bring action against them?”
I would say “We The People”
“But Berlinger, like many other opponents of the rules, thinks they are so vague that they would let any health worker object to providing any service at any time for any reason even reasons that don’t necessarily stand up to scientific scrutiny.”
I have no problem with that. I’d rather have a nation that still values liberty than the Totalitarian Death State we are headed for.
I see nothing ‘controversial’ about a doctor refusing to perform treatments the state permits but that violate his own principles. Do we want doctor’s being forced to do lobotomies on ‘enemies’ of the state? participate in final solutions?
Since the first thing Bush did on his first day in office was throw out Clinton's executive order paying Federal funds to foreign abortion providers and stopping abortions on military bases abroad, your snarky comment is proof of your ignorance.
There you go. Force doctors to retire right before you add 20,000,000 patients to the medical rolls.
Yes, I understand what the words “took effect” mean and wonder why such rules did not take effect sometime earlier than 1/20/2009.
BTW-The topic at hand has nothing whatsoever to do with America’s funding of abortions at overseas military installations, but rather medical providers right to object to certain procedures while in the United States.
You touched on our Unalienable Rights, the Natural Law philosophy of our Founders. No one need tell you that killing innocent babies, performing lobotomies on political enemies, or final solutions are wrong. No human law can make them right because they violate Natural Law and as such are not morally enforceable.
We are a civilization in decline in large part because the Christian basis of our Declaration and Constitution have been purged from schools and our traditions.
Good for these doctors.
I’ve selected new doctors in the past based on their willingness to provide care that I have strong moral beliefs against... switched obstetrics providers when I found out they perform abortions (rare, but they’re willing.) If I am opposed to euthanasia, I’m going to *want* to seek out medical caregivers similarly opposed. I go to a general practitioner who doesn’t prescribe narcotics, period.
Doctors should be free to live up to the Hippocratic Oath, in which they promise to not procure abortion, or seek to hasten death!
Well, there’s always Harvard or U of Chicago...
I don't drink, smoke or do drugs, but I think this is a narrow-minded view. Most of the "narcotic" painkillers abused recreationally today were developed for very specific purposes like easing the suffering of terminal cancer patients. They also have therapudic uses in other areas like burn victims and chronic pain sufferers. That being said, they are, of course, fraudulently perscribed to drug addicts. Doctots who get caught doing so should be barred from practicing medicine. But discriminating against these drugs all together employs the exact same logic as those who seek to outlaw firearms.
I agree that narcotics have a use in some cases... but the point is, I have freedom to seek out a doctor who will prescribe them, should I have a medical condition that would be helped by them. My general practitioner is well-educated on why and when that class of drugs would be used, and has no problem consulting with or transfering care to a provider who will do so, as well.
So, I get the best of both worlds, because my doctor is free to practice within the dictates of his beliefs. I can take advantage of his education regarding non-narcotic pain therapies and relief (his treatment for persistent plantar fascitis was brilliant, and had me walking out pain free in one treatment), or, I can choose someone else.
In college, I had persistent atypical migraine. I saw neurologists and specialists and had thousands of dollars of test to verify that yes, I had bad headaches, and no, they didn’t know why. Their solution was lots and lots of experimental medication.
Not being keen on that, I talked to another doctor who didn’t like to prescribe drugs very often (and also did not agree with euthanasia or abortion or routine vaccination). She worked with me eliminate a whole lot of processed foods and chemicals from my life, I got a back adjustment and some physical therapy to correct a muscle/alignment issue, and three months later, I was back to normal and healthy, without drugs.
I know that doesn’t work for everyone, and I certainly won’t begrudge a medication for anyone who will be helped by it, even just emotionally helped.
But if the law mandates that doctors MUST provide X, Y, and Z treatments for Symptoms A, B, and C, I’m never going to hear about treatments L, M, and N, which might have been ideal solutions for me.
Liberty applies to more than just governmental models.
I sure as hell would not. I would find a brain surgeon who took pride in his work and was not dragged to the table against his will. But that is just me.
People who want to have immoral procedures done, are free to put up enough cash to induce someone to make their dreams come true. It is called the marketplace.
It may take something like this to wake the American people up to the fact that moral doctors don’t do abortions. Obama would do well to wake up to the fact that there is NO compromise on abortion. Killing a pre-born baby is killing a human being. That is immoral in anyone’s religious belief.
He set things in motion because he knew that Obama was going to force the issue and remove the conscience clause.
You can't distort this to make it look like a problem with President Bush. He's the most pro-life President we've ever had. Bar none.
But was there a federal conscience clause in effect from 2001 to 2009?