The Bush administration. . . announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.
The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.
“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their violates their own conscience.”
The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women’s health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.