Conscientious objectors

Plan Would Protect Health-Care Workers Who Object to Abortion:

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.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This is excellent! If you have sworn to help and to heal, no one (especially your boss, or your government) has the right to make you administer something which you believe is harmful to the lives of the people you serve. Leavitt (and the Bush administration) should be commended for his work on this plan especially if they can get it implemented.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    This is excellent! If you have sworn to help and to heal, no one (especially your boss, or your government) has the right to make you administer something which you believe is harmful to the lives of the people you serve. Leavitt (and the Bush administration) should be commended for his work on this plan especially if they can get it implemented.

  • Anon

    It will have to go to the Supreme Court. The Ninth Circus has already ruled that medical personnel have no such rights.

  • Anon

    It will have to go to the Supreme Court. The Ninth Circus has already ruled that medical personnel have no such rights.

  • Don S

    Anon @2, I thought that was a CA Supreme Court ruling based on the CA Constitution, rather than the 9th Circus. Could be mistaken, but that’s my recollection.

    If CA law, CA would probably have to back off if the federal rules were otherwise upheld, or CA medical providers would lose a lot of fed funding.

    My big issue though, is why are they just now issuing these regs 5 months before the end of the Bush term? Why not years ago?

  • Don S

    Anon @2, I thought that was a CA Supreme Court ruling based on the CA Constitution, rather than the 9th Circus. Could be mistaken, but that’s my recollection.

    If CA law, CA would probably have to back off if the federal rules were otherwise upheld, or CA medical providers would lose a lot of fed funding.

    My big issue though, is why are they just now issuing these regs 5 months before the end of the Bush term? Why not years ago?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    In the realm of abortion, this is a good thing. I do wonder, however, about the larger implications.

    Remember the ruckus some raised when Muslim cab drivers refused to carry people with alcohol? This is the same issue. Would Muslim doctors be free to ignore patients with cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much? Would Scientologist doctors be free to ignore any and all issues meriting psychiatric medicine? And would this eventually require us to structure our health care system around the doctors’ beliefs?

    Remember: pro-life Christians aren’t the only doctors with beliefs.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    In the realm of abortion, this is a good thing. I do wonder, however, about the larger implications.

    Remember the ruckus some raised when Muslim cab drivers refused to carry people with alcohol? This is the same issue. Would Muslim doctors be free to ignore patients with cirrhosis of the liver from drinking too much? Would Scientologist doctors be free to ignore any and all issues meriting psychiatric medicine? And would this eventually require us to structure our health care system around the doctors’ beliefs?

    Remember: pro-life Christians aren’t the only doctors with beliefs.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don S, you asked (@3) “why are they just now issuing these regs 5 months before the end of the Bush term? Why not years ago?” Of course I don’t know the actual answer, but one could guess that perhaps it’s because abortion is mainly only important around election time. Remember when Clinton issued his flurry of regulations at the end of his term, too? Yeah.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don S, you asked (@3) “why are they just now issuing these regs 5 months before the end of the Bush term? Why not years ago?” Of course I don’t know the actual answer, but one could guess that perhaps it’s because abortion is mainly only important around election time. Remember when Clinton issued his flurry of regulations at the end of his term, too? Yeah.

  • Geremy

    Along a similar vein, we had a local abortion law passed in Vanderburgh County, IN, home of Evansville, that states that any doctor wishing to perform an abortion is required to have admitting rights to an area hospital. Anti-life groups are upset, not at the law (at least that they’ll say out loud) but at the way it was passed. Since there was no discussion, and it passed the county commission by a voice vote, they feel it shouldn’t be a law, even though it’s a really good idea.

    I’m amazed at how abortion people get mad every time the chance to kill freely is taken away from them. It’s really sad.

  • Geremy

    Along a similar vein, we had a local abortion law passed in Vanderburgh County, IN, home of Evansville, that states that any doctor wishing to perform an abortion is required to have admitting rights to an area hospital. Anti-life groups are upset, not at the law (at least that they’ll say out loud) but at the way it was passed. Since there was no discussion, and it passed the county commission by a voice vote, they feel it shouldn’t be a law, even though it’s a really good idea.

    I’m amazed at how abortion people get mad every time the chance to kill freely is taken away from them. It’s really sad.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “Remember the ruckus some raised when Muslim cab drivers refused to carry people with alcohol? This is the same issue.”

    tODD, it is not the same issue. It is the vocation of cab driver to carry paying people for their well being. You seem to be confusing this vocation with the vocation of bartender, whose vocation is to give alcohol to paying customers for their well being. This would include encouragement to drink responsibly and at some point cutting off the flow in order to avoid a drunken stupor.

    For the cab driver (whatever his religion) it would be a good simile, if his passenger asked him to drive him off a cliff.

    No doctor should be required to act or administer some plan against his beliefs. Of course, the Jehovah’s Witness doctor will be at a distinct advantage, but that’s because their beliefs are founded on a false God, same with Muslims and Scientologists. Christians on the other hand have always embraced medicine for healing because of our firm convictions regarding the sanctity of life. tODD, please refrain from comparing apples to oranges in the future. :)

  • Bryan Lindemood

    “Remember the ruckus some raised when Muslim cab drivers refused to carry people with alcohol? This is the same issue.”

    tODD, it is not the same issue. It is the vocation of cab driver to carry paying people for their well being. You seem to be confusing this vocation with the vocation of bartender, whose vocation is to give alcohol to paying customers for their well being. This would include encouragement to drink responsibly and at some point cutting off the flow in order to avoid a drunken stupor.

    For the cab driver (whatever his religion) it would be a good simile, if his passenger asked him to drive him off a cliff.

    No doctor should be required to act or administer some plan against his beliefs. Of course, the Jehovah’s Witness doctor will be at a distinct advantage, but that’s because their beliefs are founded on a false God, same with Muslims and Scientologists. Christians on the other hand have always embraced medicine for healing because of our firm convictions regarding the sanctity of life. tODD, please refrain from comparing apples to oranges in the future. :)

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Correction: post 7 should read: Jehovah’s Witness doctor at a “distinct disadvantage…”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Correction: post 7 should read: Jehovah’s Witness doctor at a “distinct disadvantage…”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bryan, you said (@7), you said, “No doctor should be required to act or administer some plan against his beliefs.” Does this not also apply to pharmacists, cab drivers, teachers, etc.?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bryan, you said (@7), you said, “No doctor should be required to act or administer some plan against his beliefs.” Does this not also apply to pharmacists, cab drivers, teachers, etc.?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Of course. Why should some teacher be required to teach against what they believe? If they do, their teaching will ring hollow and learning will be hindered greatly. This happens a lot, I bet. Unfortunate.

    If its against your religion to drive some people around, I guess you should be free to operate a cab company that way, but I would bet that some other company will best you.

    And we’ve run into the pharmacy problem here in our neighborhood. Certain neighbors want to force our local neighborhood pharmacy to carry the morning after pill. The pharmacist would rather close. So far our local laws support this small business owner (God be praised). But that doesn’t stop some from boycotting. That’s the market working.

    And a Jehovah Witness doctor isn’t going to get a lot a patients who need blood donations.

    Pro-life doctors could get boycotted, too. If these things are important to them, they will live with the consequences of standing for what they believe. But let’s ensure their freedom to do just that to the best of our ability. Thank God for all doctors who understand their vocation to try to save life when they can and never to kill.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Of course. Why should some teacher be required to teach against what they believe? If they do, their teaching will ring hollow and learning will be hindered greatly. This happens a lot, I bet. Unfortunate.

    If its against your religion to drive some people around, I guess you should be free to operate a cab company that way, but I would bet that some other company will best you.

    And we’ve run into the pharmacy problem here in our neighborhood. Certain neighbors want to force our local neighborhood pharmacy to carry the morning after pill. The pharmacist would rather close. So far our local laws support this small business owner (God be praised). But that doesn’t stop some from boycotting. That’s the market working.

    And a Jehovah Witness doctor isn’t going to get a lot a patients who need blood donations.

    Pro-life doctors could get boycotted, too. If these things are important to them, they will live with the consequences of standing for what they believe. But let’s ensure their freedom to do just that to the best of our ability. Thank God for all doctors who understand their vocation to try to save life when they can and never to kill.

  • Don S

    tODD @5 — I agree with you. Unfortunately, what you say is all too true, which is why I raised the issue of timing.

  • Don S

    tODD @5 — I agree with you. Unfortunately, what you say is all too true, which is why I raised the issue of timing.

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