Bush’s Parting Shot Undermines Health Care

Very little about the Bush administration could surprise me anymore,
but I was completely disheartened when — despite the written
opposition from more than 200,000 Americans, 150 members of Congress, a
bipartisan coalition of governors and attorneys general, the American
Medical Association, and women’s health organizations like Planned
Parenthood — the Department of Health and Human Services issued a last minute regulation that will undermine health care access at nearly 600,000 pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals across the country.

This sort of "take the drapes on your way out" approach is the final
chapter of an administration that has prized political ideology over
health care for their entire eight years — and the rule issued
yesterday, with little more than 30 days left in office, is the
ultimate holiday gift to the extreme right.

Under this new rule, doctors and health care workers of all kinds
can deny patients vital health care information and services, without
the patient even knowing. No patient is exempt from the reach of this
rule: sexual assault victims could be denied information about
emergency contraception that could prevent unintended pregnancy, moms
hoping to time their pregnancies can be denied contraception at their
local pharmacy, young adults hoping to be tested for sexually
transmitted infections could be denied treatment by health care
employees who oppose premarital sex.

In short, this rule is likely to create total chaos in an already
stressed health care system, and for low-income women and families,
this rule may spell the end of the few available health care options.
Essentially, any patient that utilizes health care at a provider that
receives any federal funds will be subject to the luck of the draw in
terms of what kinds of reproductive health care they are offered. This
might seem far-fetched, until you realize that groups like Pharmacists
for Life have campaigned nationally to have pharmacies refuse to
provide women birth control prescribed by their physician.

If you had any doubt that this rule is about politics, not health
care, just watch the high-fives among the far right. "This is a huge
victory for religious freedom and the First Amendment," said Tony
Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

The bottom line in health care has always been that patients’ health
comes first; this regulation turns that basic tenet on its head. In
fact, they failed to address the basic questions of patients’ rights
lodged by hundreds of thousands of Americans during that period.

For months, Planned Parenthood has spoken out against the proposed
regulation. When a draft version of the rule was leaked last summer, we
were the first out of the gate to point out the damage this regulation
could do to women’s health care. And, in the days and weeks to come, we
will work with the new administration and Congress to overturn this
disastrous rule. Our goal has always been to expand — not limit —
patients’ access to full health care information and services. If you
want to help, please sign our petition.

And count your blessings that this administration is almost finished.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • invalid-0

    The rule only says that people cannot be forced to violate their consciences and morals. It certainly leaves the door open for others to perform tasks and uphold their own version of morals in opposition.

    Both sides can win. What’s wrong with that?

  • invalid-0

    I work in a pharmacy and I have a moral objection to dispensing drugs like Lipitor to anyone. I’m glad to see this rule. I also object to giving a five year old Amphetamines for “ADD” because someone doesn’t want to parent.

  • invalid-0

    This completely infringes on human rights. I don’t really care if my cashier is opposed to premarital sex; if their establishment wants my money (like I would assume all would), they’ll sell the product I want. It’s not their call as to how I live my life, or anyone else for that matter.

    The scariest thing is this includes HIV/AIDS related issues. If an employee is opposed to homosexuality, they can refuse to sell HIV medication. Are you kidding me? That is completely and utterly ridiculous.

  • invalid-0

    Vance, who are you to decide for people what drugs they should or should not take, based on your personal moral compass? Regardless of what you think is right and decisions you would make for yourself, you have no right to deny people drugs that have been prescribed to them. In any other profession you wouldn’t be allowed to not do your job just because you “morally objected” to something you were being asked to do, you’d just be fired. You aren’t their doctor, you aren’t even their friend, you are a guy behind the counter who has a job to do. So do it, or get another job.

  • invalid-0

    #1 those people who refuse will be personally sued for negligence due to the fact that they don’t believe in something yet they did not remove themselves from the situation nor inform others prior; and a patient had damages because of it. NOTHING will protect them on that point.

    #2 Hospitals will twist it and say their conscience prohibits them from giving treatment to those who can’t pay.

  • invalid-0

    But they will have the responsibility to insure they are not in a position of have to refuse because of conscience – if they don’t, that’s negligence, and they will be sued PERSONALLY. All this right wing religious nutjobs are cheering because they think they can enforce religious beliefs through hospitals. They will just be sued and have their licenses revoked. It will be extremely dicey for them, as “refusing to treat” actually is a major indication that negligence occurred!

    Why were they in a situation where they had to refuse? Who did they inform or not inform PRIOR to the situation occurring? Answers to these will to towards mitigation of damage and negligence and who gets sued.

    THIS IS A LAWYERS DREAM! Thank you George W. Bush!

  • invalid-0

    It has always seemed to me that overt actions intended to force a woman to have an unwanted pregnancy or an unwanted child, should be treated as sexual assaults.
    Such actions include, but are not restricted to, denying access to contraception, medical treatment, or other medications (e.g., Plan B).
    I think that the pro-choice movement has been too gentle with the opposition for too long.
    Civil and criminal charges should be brought into this strange context. If Bush’s idiotic “Conscience Expansion Rule” stands, even for a short time, legal action seeking punishment for sexual assaults might be precisely the right contradiction to add to the mix.
    And remember: according to the Law & Order SVU prologue, such crimes “are considered especially heinous.”