Update on HHS “Conscience Rule”

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Obama announced his intention to revisit the HHS “Conscience Rule,” which prohibits businesses from firing or refusing to hire a worker who objects to certain duties which offend his moral conscience. (Such as the dissemination of birth control pills.)

Read or listen to NPR’s article about it here.

The Department of Health and Human Services is calling for a 30-day public comment period before beginning any process to formally rescind the regulation. People wishing to comment on the Provider Conscience Regulation should email their comments to: consciencecomment@hhs.gov.

Here is a copy of the email I sent:

I urge you to rescind the HHS Regulation that protects workers from having to perform duties they find morally objectionable because I believe that there are already regulations and laws in place that provide this protection.

This HHS regulation discriminates against businesses and entities who want to provide good medical care to their patients and clients and interferes with the running of said businesses and entities. An employer should not be forced to hire someone who he knows will not do his or her job completely. I’m surprised that the government has been willing to run over the rights of employers to hire the best person for the job.

If an individual feels that strongly about not performing duties that offend his conscience, then he should seek a business that feels the same way he does. What’s going to be next? Will a mail carrier have the right to not deliver certain pieces of mail because they offend his religious or moral beliefs? Why limit this to health care? Unless of course the real goal of this regulation has been to defeat abortion providers and eliminate any device or medication that might cause abortion.

As for the last point, have you even considered how far-reaching this regulation could be? Anyone who is against anything but the rhythm method of family planning (for instance, a Catholic) could refuse to dispense birth control at all, even forms that have not been shown to cause abortion. That’s a great way to fight abortion: make it harder for women to prevent pregnancies.

I am a woman who had an abortion when I was 19, when it had just become legal in New York. I know what it was like to have to travel hundreds of miles to get to a facility that would give me an abortion. It is already increasingly hard to find abortion providers. Are we also to soon find it difficult to find sources of birth control?

Please get rid of this messy, muddled regulation that frankly was proposed in the first place to appease the conservatives and the religious right in this country. They already have their consciences protected by other means. Don’t allow them to take away the rights of the rest of the populace.

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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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