President Barack Obama will soon rescind a Bush Administration rule that "allowed doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care workers who refuse to perform or assist in abortions, sterilizations, and other contraceptive procedures on moral grounds."
The rule was put into effect at the very last minute, announced on December 19, 2008, and taking effect the day President Obama took office. The Planned Parenthood Federation called it a "midnight regulation," (which it was) while supporters call it a "provider conscience regulation."
I realize it’s the supporters’ jobs to come up with euphemisms for the rule, and one can’t be too outraged by their attempts to spin, but the idea of "conscience regulation" is an old argument, and remains an infuriating one. Is it unreasonable to expect that doctors and other health care professionals should do the jobs they’re hired to do, without objecting, or should we create laws that allow them to follow their feelings – whether the refuse to do their job over a moral objection to contraception, or because they are squeamish about seeing blood?
The law didn’t take it that far, obviously, and that’s certainly a slippery-slope argument, but one has to wonder how far this "conscience regulation" could go. Morals are one’s personal feelings on an issue. Should we allow a doctor’s personal feelings to affect our health and well-being?
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Thankfully we needn’t worry too much, and Obama is in the right. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut summed it up nicely, "Dismantling this dangerous rule is a historic step toward preserving profoundly significant health care rights for women, and vital constitutional rights for all."