Attempts to leave lasting impressions: Bush Administration’s “right of conscience” rule.

So, I suppose we can start to put together the list of things that the Bush Administration is going to try to pull before they leave office, one of the most nefarious being the “right of conscience” rule.
via LA Times.

Reporting from Washington — The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new “right of conscience” rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable, including abortion and possibly even artificial insemination and birth control.
For more than 30 years, federal law has dictated that doctors and nurses may refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further by making clear that healthcare workers also may refuse to provide information or advice to patients who might want an abortion.

So, essentially, even if you have the right to obtain an abortion, you may not have access to the information necessary to actually know all your options. I would never deny how smart a doctor is, but I don’t really think it is up to a doctor to decide what is morally right for me or for my body. If the law has already decided that I can have access to reproductive technology, then why is a doctor allowed to tell me something different? I would like the advice I get from my doctor to be based on my health needs, not their religious and moral beliefs. I am sorry that is crazy.
According to Raw Story this change could hurt rural and poor women the hardest. Melissa Harris-Lacewell in conversation with Maddow over the subject discusses.

Harris-Lacewell explained that regulations like this “right of conscience” rule have “been the new strategy of those who have been opposed to women’s reproductive rights. … Rather than fight this out in the courts … what you do is limit access. You limit the education that doctors are getting in medical school. You limit the ability of these doctors to practice in various states and localities. You just keep reducing, reducing, reducing.”
“That has a disproportionate effect on poor women, on rural women,” Harris-Lacewell stated. “Women who have private health insurance, women who have private physicians, tend to have plenty of access to a variety of reproductive rights options. Poor women and women with less access are the ones hit hardest.”

Bush not done fucking with you yet.
Bush to Issue Midnight HHS Regulation.
Clinton moves to Block HHS Regulation.

Join the Conversation

  • teacherwoman

    When Obama takes office, can he undo this?

  • LittlePunk

    Wait…wait what?!? Are you effing kidding me? So this basically means doctors do not have to treat patients according to whatever they deem immoral? What if their “morality” dictates that a baby is delivered no matter the lethal risk to the mother, and so they don’t inform a mother of a complication that may arise? What if their morality dictates that they can’t treat homosexuals, Jews, people with brown hair and green eyes? According to this logic, couldn’t workers at McDonald’s who are vegetarians refuse to serve burgers?

  • Nicole

    Yep…pretty much everything you said proves the idiocy of this logic. Doctors have a legal obligation to provide safe, INFORMED service to patients. Doesn’t this kind of poke a HUGE whole in the concept of a patient receiving informed consent? In fact, it tears it to shreds.

  • Nicole

    And not to mention the ridiculous name of this law. “Right of conscience?” This law is named so as to protect a person’s right to have a conscience. So, what, a doctor who believes that I shouldn’t get an abortion is protecting his right to have a conscience? So the woman seeking the abortion actually doesn’t have a conscience or isn’t thinking with it? That is a fucking stretch. It’s one thing, however idiotic, to suggest that women seeking abortions are blinded by desperation or being tempted by the devil. But it’s a whole other thing to suggest that these women are inherently evil and don’t know the difference between right and wrong.

  • Lilith Luffles

    I work at Staples, where sometimes we have to make photo-copies for people. If I’m morally against photo-copying an anti-abortion rally sign, do I have the right to deny that service? Or is the customer right to be mad that I’m not making a copy of their sign? Where is my right to not make copies of something I’m morally against?
    Oh well, can’t say I want it. I’m there to do my job. Unless it’s hate speech we’re photocopying, I really don’t care. I might be uncomfortable, but the person still has a right to have copies made for them.

  • nilbog

    Ooooohh, maybe I can refuse to read or grade my student’s papers when they write racist, sexist, or just ignorant bullshit.

  • pheebs

    Ha. If someone can can “exercise their right to conscience” and deny me medical information, then I should damn well be able to exercise MY right to conscience and not pay taxes that support a government that is fighting an illegal war. Assholes.

  • Rachel_in_WY

    There’s been a lot of dialogue about privilege here lately, and I just wanted to point out that this is a perfect example of a systemic problem that disproportionatley effects low-income and minority groups. I was talking about this legislation a couple of days ago and two of the women I work with were like “this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, because you could always go elsewhere if your doctor/nurse/pharmacist won’t help you.” This is a perfect example of how privilege alters your perception of things, and how easy it is to be blind to it. I can go elsewhere, as can my co-workers, because we have really good health insurance. This is not the case for everyone, and there are other limitations (like transportation, for example) that can also limit access to other health care providers.

  • cordi

    What’s worse is that the abortion-specific language was stripped out, leaving this rule open to anything – IVF, birth control, post-partum depression, regular depression, sex change surgeries – anyone can refuse to have a part of it/discuss it with the patient.

  • PullTaffy

    You absolutely do have the right to refuse to make copies of anything you find objectionable. When I was working at Staples in college, we had a customer who would come in to get copies of pornographic pictures. He was a regular customer, and most of the time did his own at the self serve copiers, but now and then he would ask me to help. I told him no, and I told him why.
    If you have a problem with a job someone asks you to do, page the manager and explain why. The company has a policy about this, and you should get support from the manager. If someone else on duty is willing to do it, they can, but if no one else will either, then the customer doesn’t get their copies. In my experience, as long as I remained calm and polite, and firm, the customer usually didn’t get too angry. I always thought it was nice to know that my employer protected me from having to do jobs that would make me feel like I’d done something wrong.
    On the other hand, someone who was anti-choice could use the same policy to refuse a job about abortion rights, but we can’t have it both ways, and in the end it’s about protecting your own conscience.
    Also, and I want to be very clear, not getting your copies is not even close to being as serious as being denied healthcare, in which case I think that they have an obligation to act in the interest of the patient.

  • Lea

    I wouldn’t mind this rule if there was some provision for referring patients to a health professional who would talk about the issue with the patient- like the doctor could say, “Another option might be __________. I don’t advocate this option, but if you want more information, you can talk to __________.”

  • Chelsea Morning

    Um, my religion says that pervy old dudes shouldn’t be given access to Viagra and other such penile pills by their doctors and insurance companies if dames can’t get a hold of birth control options through their doctors. Fuckers.

  • Danyell

    People think that these laws only apply to women’s reproductive rights, but it’s so much worse than even THAT (as if that weren’t bad enough) if the language is broad enough:
    -Should a doctor who is a Jehovah’s Witness be able to deny you a blood transfusion?
    -Should a doctor that has a “moral” problem with gay people not treat them if they are aware of their sexuality?
    -Should an ER doctor not treat a bullet shot victim if the injury occurred while the patient was committing a crime?
    -Should a doctor be able to not treat patients for things they feel are the patient’s own fault? (For instance: A smoker with lung cancer?)

  • doubleb

    Last time I checked people have the right not to enter the medical profession if they don’t feel like providing medical service.

  • Rachel_in_WY

    Yes, but the medical industry already has a really fucked up approach to informed consent when it comes to women’s health. Look at the way they handle childbirth, and the ridiculous, completely untrue things women are routinely told by their care providers. The only way to explain it is that they either don’t perceive us as being capable of informed consent (which would explain why they speak to you like you’re a child while you’re in labor), or that they don’t feel that informed consent is a priority when dealing with a female patient. I’m not sure which one is worse.

  • piccolo54

    Is this definitely going through? Is there anyone we can write to, like our Senators, to express our extreme disapproval and outrage???!!!
    I hate just sitting idly by while something SO ridiculous like this happens.
    I just finished reading Cristina Page’s book, “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America” and am so tired of the Bush administration’s shenanigans with women’s reproductive rights.

  • Hilary

    I am so upset by this. There is a clinic in our county that is a Department of Health Family Planning Clinic. Its purpose is to provide gynecological services and birth control to the poor. They are going to have to prove that they don’t discriminate in their HIRING against people who do not believe in dispensing, recommending, or even REFERRING someone to get birth control. Not to mention putting in IUDs or injecting someone with depo provera.
    There are already several laws allow conscience exclusions. But, they do not require these clinics to prove that they hire people who would be opposed to the primary requirements of their job description.

  • Hilary

    That should say “several laws that allow conscience exclusions…”
    Typos make me twitchy.

  • Strat

    Isn’t this in complete violation of the Hippocratic Oath? That crazy little “do no harm” bit?
    Not giving someone information about all their options, simply because you don’t like one or two of them, is snide and manipulative and completely harmful.
    How are they rationalizing this?
    (On a side note: please, people. If you can’t do the job, don’t choose that profession. If you hate the sight of blood, don’t be a surgeon. And if you’re anti-abortion, don’t be an OB/GYN. There are other kinds of doctors. Hell, if you care that much about the life of the “child”, why not be a pediatrician?)

  • Katie93

    So, in other words, we get to ignore the Hippocratic Oath, encourage people to not actually do their jobs, and leave women everywhere without the proper medical care they need. Nice job as usual, Bush.

  • Newbomb Turk

    My conscience forbids heavy lifting. Does that mean I get to keep MY job while refusing to work, too?

  • austin nedved

    Liberalism wants to force people to perform abortions. It wants to silence people who disagree with them. If you say that it is wrong to target a group of people who cannot defend themselves and exploit them to our advantage, and say that abortion is still OK, you are contradicting yourself. You have to throw logic out the window. Liberalism is not based on rational inquiry at all; it is based on desires and rationalizations for them.
    If you cannot impose the moral rule on others that it is wrong to exploit innocent groups of people to your advantage, slavery should be legal. Abortion and slavery are similar in that they violate that moral principle – a principle that we CERTAINLY can impose on other people.
    The ignorance and superficiality of liberalism is nowhere more apparent than in this blog. Liberals are too ignorant and irrational to see the difference between a doctor who does not want to be in any way involved with a partial birth abortion (or any other abortion) and a factory worker who does not want to be involved with heavy lifting. The ‘right of conscience’ prevents doctors from being forced to aid and abet the targeting and exploitation of a group of innocent people. In the case of birth control, the ‘right of conscience’ protects doctors from complicity in the denigration of our sexual morality (the practical kind).
    It is amazing how willing liberalism is to misrepresent the beliefs of other ideologies; if you think that people who want to legislate sexual morality are doing so because they want to prevent people from offending God (as many people do), you have been tricked by liberal lies.

  • mbspringer

    The Bush administration announced its “conscience protection” rule for the health care industry yesterday, giving everyone including doctors, hospitals, receptionists and volunteers in medical experiments the right to refuse to participate in medical care they find morally objectionable.
    Now heres the clincher……………………
    The right-to-refuse rule includes abortion, but Leavitt’s office said it extends to other aspects of health care where moral concerns could arise, including birth control, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research or assisted suicide.
    Now lets say a doctor who believes in assisted suicide lets it be known in some subtle way. What if old uncle fred knows this and insists on being taken to this doctor knowing that the doctor will not try very hard to keep him alive because it goes against his conscience? Pretty soon all the elderly who want to die will be going to this doctor who can defend his actions on moral grounds.
    Now lets say that there is a doctor who is not crazy about the police. A wounded officer is rushed to the hospital and the doctor refuses treatment on moral grounds.
    Lets say that there is a Vietnamese or Iraqi doctor on the night shift at a major hospital, and some decorated veteran who has had his picture in the paper arrive for an emergency procedure with only minutes to live. The doctor refuses treatment on moral grounds.
    Lets say that anyone who has had their picture in the paper or the court report is rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment with only minutes to live. The doctor in attendance has seen their picture in the paper or read the court report and refuses treatment on moral grounds.
    Lets say a doctor is not very good, bottom of the class, drunk, whatever , and the patient dies. Can the doctor claim that their behaviour was actually the result of a moral decision so as to avoid a malpractice suit?

  • Nation Health

    There was a double impression after perusal of the given book. On the one hand, – regulation of reproductive function is useful for general health of the nation, since. Cuts cases of a birth of intellectually defective children, after all the society is interested in that freedom of reproduction of the defective has been limited, and with another, from the church point of view it is very bad, to that-as since the very first day after fertilisation – the beginning of a new life takes place.

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    Here look: women and a debt to the native land force to give, transforming for their certain time in the present slaves and the reproductive rights at them is not present, and children at them select at divorce, and in their prison send under the first requirement of men, and also working conditions and level of medicine for women are frankly rather bad, and as women are impudently defamed in mass-media – I already wrote above.

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    I agree with what you said: no sanctimony is always better than some sanctimony.

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    I started to acknowledge about the Custom Thesis that my problem with marriage was the stereotype of marriage. When I realised that really, marriage could be what *I* wanted to make of it, then only I realised that I was availing of the heady potential of the freedom, that choice, that so many feminists had fought for.

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    Some scientists consider, that evolution has learnt men to fall in love with female lines which associate at it with a youth and health so in good reproductive potential.

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