A while back I talked about a proposal for the Department of Health and Human Services that really scares me. Sadly, this is to update you that Bush pushed this measure through. On December 18th, 2008 this proposal became a reality. Read more about it in the Department of Health and Human Services Final Regulation Press Release.
Here is the thing, this doesn´t just say that people don´t have to perform abortions, it says that any health care worker doesn´t have to take part in any part of any procedure that they morally oppose. So, legally, someone could refuse to schedule a lesbian couple for IVF because they oppose homosexuality. They could refuse to do labs on an HIV positive patient. A pharmacist could refuse to give out the already prescribed birth control or morning after pill.
I particularly find this law dangerous for people who live in rural America where choices are more limited and health clinics can be miles apart. If I were an administrator of one and found that under this new law one of my doctors or nurses was refusing to give out birth control to under-aged girls, I would want to be able to change that doctor. I believe it is a right for that girl to be treated and not simply abandoned by health care providers to find a way to make it to the next town or to risk STD transmission or unwanted pregnancy.
Employers should be able to choose health care personnel on what they are willing to do within legal parameters. If you are a nurse who is pro-life, that is fine. Choose a catholic hospital or an institution that aligns with your values. Don´t go work at a public hospital and deny someone their right to have an abortion or at least learn about one. Similarly, if you are a secretary who doesn´t approve of “gay lifestyle”, don´t apply to work at the HRC. Health care workers have choices to make about where they work, and their rights and moral objections should be respected. But this respect should not supersede the patient´s right to information or services performed.
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