Status of HHS Proposal

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The Health and Human Services regulation protecting health workers’ “right of conscience” is due to be finalized this week, which means that it will take effect before Obama’s inauguration, making it harder for Obama to undo. This regulation makes it impossible for businesses (clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.) to reprimand or fire employees who refuse to do their jobs if they conflict with their personal, moral, or ethical stances on abortion, birth control and other health services. Not only that, but an employer cannot refuse to hire an employee who “confesses” ahead of time that he or she objects to something that will make it impossible for them to do their jobs fully.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC likens that to hiring an Amish person to drive a bus when you know that he will not be able to because of his principles against using modern conveniences. The whole thing is ludicrous and also superfluous since people are already protected by the Civil Rights Act from having to do anything they find morally objectionable. The difference is that health care workers will have more rights than do their patients, because the workers can actually halt or prevent a health service from taking place. The patient won’t have any recourse but to try to find a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, orderly, etc, who doesn’t have such objections. This may only be inconvenient for some people, but in areas that don’t have many health resources, it could be disastrous.

Read the December 17th Wall Street Journal article for more information.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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