Obama Administration May Rescind “Conscience” Rule

The Obama
administration will rescind Bush’s midnight regulations that would
allow any health care worker to obstruct a woman’s access to
contraception, the Chicago Tribune reports this morning. In its place they will make another rule that clarifies
"what health-care workers can reasonably refuse for patients."

Rachel Maddow celebrates the reversal of Bush’s HHS “provider conscience” regulation.

The Tribune reports that, in an effort to strike "common ground,"
the administration is seeking perspective from "across the ideological
spectrum before it finalizes the rollback." An unnamed official told the
paper, "We believe that this is a complex issue that requires a
thoughtful process where all voices can be heard."

It would appear the regulation was already beginning to wreak havoc
in the mere two months it’s been in effect. The Tribune reports,

Seven states, including California, Illinois and Connecticut, as well
as two family planning groups, have filed suits challenging the Bush
rule, arguing it sacrifices the health of patients to religious beliefs
of medical providers.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has reported
cases such as that of a Virginia mother of two who became pregnant
because she was denied emergency contraception. In Texas, the group
said, a rape victim had her prescription for emergency contraception
rejected by a pharmacist.

We can expect the pro-lie movement to be at
its finest making its case to the public to retain the refusal
regulation. I predict we’ll hear a lot from them about healthcare
providers being forced to take part in abortion services and that
they’ll fail to mention that by "abortion" they mean "contraception."
What often gets reported as a footnote in news stories is that three
separate laws dating back 30 years already protect health care workers
who refuse to take part in the delivery of abortions services.

The refusal regulation Obama is beginning to rescind today is of
course very different and far more expansive than those laws. Even
Bush’s own officials at the EEOC spoke out against his regulation. The
following is an excerpt from my piece, "Bush, Our Ex-Boyfriend,"
published on the day the regs took effect, inauguration day, literally
in the last minutes of the Bush administration:

HHS regulations were a last minute, hastily executed,
unconstitutionally vague, attempt by Bush to repay his only loyal
constituency left, the religious right wing. The regulations attempt to
expand health care workers right to "consciously object" to the
broadest array of health care services imaginable, basically anything,
even in medical emergencies. They can, in other words, refuse to
provide you medical care, because it offends them! It opens the door to
many patient abuses, shreds state laws and contradicts federal
discrimination statutes. Healthcare workers would be able to withhold
information from a patient about healthcare options without the patient
even knowing that any information is being withheld. Patients can be
refused referrals if the healthcare worker objects to the care they’re
seeking somewhere else.

And here is one particularly bizarre twist. The regulations specify
that workers don’t have to inform their employers of the service or
services they object to before hand. It’s also unclear the extent to
which employers have the right to ask job applicants about their
willingness to take part in the services they provide. Thus, imagine
the situation in which an anti-choice person applies for a position at
Planned Parenthood. The employer couldn’t ascertain that she’s against
abortion, nor could it fire her when she refused to have anything to do
with it.

But the regulations’ real intent (revealed in a draft version of the
proposal leaked this summer) is perhaps worse: to allow those who want
to obstruct a woman’s access to birth control full license. Keep in
mind, there is already ample protection for those who do not wish to
take part in abortion services, three laws in fact. The right to refuse
to take part in abortion services has existed for over 30 years. Here’s
the thrust of the new regulations (in my own words), "If you’d like to
consider contraception an abortion method and refuse to take part,
please do, but also feel free to object to contraception, or any other
health care service, for any reason you can dream up. The only thing
limiting your right to refuse is your own imagination." Your conscience
is yours. Use it how you want. Even if it infringes on the conscience
of others.

There will be a 30-day comment period about the
rescinding of the regulation. RH Reality Check will post information
about how to comment so please check back soon.

The Obama
Administration promises to listen to all perspectives–one of the
clearest hallmarks of how different an administration this is from the
last. But as a result, we can’t assume administration officials
understand all the problems with the original regulations. That’s why
we must speak up as clearly now as we did before. We know for sure
opponents of birth control will.

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

  • invalid-0

    This last-minute regulation by W was unconstitutional because it allowed followers of a specific religious doctrine to interfere with government-licenced activities. I heard of “pharmacists” who not only wouldn’t fill a perscription for contraceptives (including emergency contraception) but confiscated (stole) the perscription from the patient so she couldn’t go anywhere else.

    How about a law that allows retail clerks to refuse to sell tobacco products if they object to them on ethical principles? How long would that last?

    • http://games.brg8.com invalid-0

      the perscription from the patient so she couldn’t go anywhere else. How about a law that allows retail clerks to refuse to sell tobacco products if they object to them on ethical principles? How long would that last

  • invalid-0

    The Center for Reproductive Rights commends President Obama for beginning the process to repeal this harmful regulation. Any time, any worker at a healthcare facility can prevent a woman seeking reproductive services from getting care, information and even, a referral—and the government sanctions such conduct—it’s time for a regulatory ‘do-over’. The Bush administration claimed that this policy protects healthcare providers against discrimination, but in truth, it leaves patients unprotected and seriously violates their rights and medical needs.

  • cristina-page

    Curious to know what you think about the "rewriting the regs" part of this. The coverage indicated that it’s not that the reg is just rescinded and we can all move on but rather it’s more of a ‘let’s scrap this one and start again’ approach. Considering there are ample protections on the books for those who don’t want to take part in the delivery of abortion care, what could any new "right to refuse care" regs possibly do that wouldn’t be of great concern to us?

    Also, is the CRR going to do any action helping plug in pro-choice people to offer perspective to the amdinistration during the 30 day comment period?


    Thanks again for weighing in Nancy. Every conversation on women’s rights is improved when you’re in it. Best, Cristina



  • kateyri

    As a religious leader, I applaud the President’s decision. I can appreciate that some physicians, nurses, pharmacists and so on do not want to participate in delivering sexual health services — I just don’t think they should work for federally funded programs that have as their mandate to deliver them. Blessings for one more step forward from the dark anti-reproductive health policies of the last Administration.
    Rev. Debra Haffner

  • steveinnyc

    My understanding is that since the regulation clarifies how existing law should be implemented, it has to be rewritten instead of being rescinded because you still need to implement the law. The rewritten reg can say, "you were doing it right all along," but legally it’s still a new regulation.


    That said, and I don’t know if this is possible, is this an opportunity to write regs that say you have to refer patients if you refuse care?

  • invalid-0

    Birth control pills sometimes fail at preventing conception, the new life is conceived, and the pill then acts as an abortifacient- meaning the newly created life is inhibited from implanting on the uterine wall (so, in addition to the added promiscuity contraception encourages which also leads to more abortions, it actually causes more abortions via the method described). So don’t say contraceptives don’t or can’t cause an abortion. They absolutely, scientifically can and do. Now, you claim as your two ‘harmful’ cases of the conscience clause: “In one, a Virginia mother of two became pregnant because she was denied emergency contraception. In another, a rape victim in Texas had her prescription for emergency contraception rejected by a pharmacist.”

    Let’s clarify something, the Virginia mother got pregnant because of sex; not because of denial of contraception. If you’re pregnant, you’ve already conceived. The contraceptive can only destroy the already created life. Let’s be honest here- your suggested use of contraceptives in the two cases you mentioned is precisely as an ‘abortifacient on demand.’ That’s exactly one of the main reasons Pharmacists and doctors should be able to refuse to give out something they know causes the destruction of human life or to do a ‘procedure’ that destroys life.

  • invalid-0

    Should the Virginian woman should be punished for having sex by being forced to carry a parasite, but the other woman has been wronged? It seems that you care more about the circumstances in which the parasite got there than the women whose lives have been damaged by rape/parasites.

  • invalid-0

    Punishing women for sex. These anti choicers do not think about the woman’s LIFE, they could care less about her. A woman to them is only a thing to use as an incubator and gestator. What do I have to say to so called “4Life”? I have to say that abortion is perfectly legal, and it is within a woman’s RIGHT to LIFE and the pursuit of happiness, granted to her (and not gestatiing zygotes, or fetuses, if you will)to do what she has to to accomplish that goal, and it is NONE of YOUR business, but between her and her doctor!

  • invalid-0

    You, Hitler, and Margaret Sanger would have gotten along just fine. Hitler believed Jews were parasites, Sanger promoted her eugenics and birth control & birth destruction to destroy “negros” as she called them who were to her “weeds of the earth.” And now, you call the newly conceived person a parasite. That says it all right there- PH you are a disgusting, vile, filthy person- just as your pals Hitler and Sanger were.

  • invalid-0

    4life has lost the discussion.

    (Is there some kind of potion/substance/etc. that we could give to other pro-life activists, so that they would make the same arguments you do?)

  • invalid-0

    godwin’s law has finally made it to rhrealitycheck.org! it had to happen sooner or later – though i suspect this can’t really be the first time.

  • invalid-0

    hey anonymous you owe me a coke! but, i’m good at conceding, and realize i did post 4 minutes after you. i hadn’t seen your comment yet – but figure since mine is technically second to yours, i owe you the coke for the jinx.

  • invalid-0

    When pro-lifers make themselves and their arguments look ridiculous, we all win! :-D

  • invalid-0

    Ooo, I’m vile and filthy. I feel naughty. I thought you’d react that way, when your own inflammatory tactics are used against you. Why should I be surprised, when you call a zygote an “unborn child” and resort to harrassment outside clinics, shaming, name-calling, patronizing paternalistic crap to guilt women into giving birth. Z/E/F at all stages before viability bear all the characteristics of a parasite as it, like any other parasite, needs another’s body to survive. It’s a just a word. Only people like you give that word power, those of you who see microscopic babies in fertilized ovas and dividing cells.

    Get over it, and yourself, 4life.

  • invalid-0

    According to the rule, a comparison to Hitler, “might be appropriate” (the rule is only about the likelihood of comparison being interjected- not the validity of it). And in this case, the comparison is clearly apt. Hitler wanted to wipe out a particular race of people- jews; Sanger wanted to wipe out a particular race of people- blacks; and you pro-abortionists relish the idea of wiping out the race of pre-born babies (and yes science has proven human life begins at conception) and have been very successful at many of them. In each case, there has been a bias against the victims’ right to life. I feel sorry for you- the pro death crowd- that you can’t do the pretty obvious dot-connecting. If you’re about choice for females, what about the choice for unborn baby girls? Oh, that’s right- like Hitler to Jews and Sanger to blacks you don’t recognize their personhood! Obviously, you people have no better argument than that totally lame one- and if you could, to have all pro-lifers aborted. I pray you figure out the truth, before you destroy and support the destruction of more innocent human lives.

  • invalid-0

    And in this case, the comparison is clearly apt.

    Uh… no. It’s not, actually. What’s clear is that you have no grasp of what Europe went through in World War II.

    Please read Night, by Elie Wiesel. And the next time you make a comparison to Hitler, and/or the Holocaust, save it for something that can produce a true story one-tenth as horrifying as that.

  • invalid-0

    4life, your statement that “science has proven life begins at conception” is simply, completely, and irredeemably wrong. If you don’t understand why it is wrong, you have no business discussing science in public. You are, of course, entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to make up your own facts. However fervently you may believe that life begins at conception, casting that belief as a scientific fact is not an opinion but a lie.

  • invalid-0

    WTF? That’s like describing elderly adults as the race of the predead. Please STFU and GTFO 4life, you’re making a fool of yourself.

  • invalid-0

    If you’re about choice for females, what about the choice for unborn baby girls? Oh, that’s right- like Hitler to Jews and Sanger to blacks you don’t recognize their personhood! Obviously, you people have no better argument than that totally lame one- and if you could, to have all pro-lifers aborted.

    People are not born with a certain political slant, dumbass. Even growing up in a conservative household does not mean any given number of that household’s offspring would turn out conservative. Also, what happens to that baby girl once she is born? When she gets past the age of magical innocence and reaches an age where she is able to procreate, what then? In an anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-woman world she becomes another incubator for reproducing, and would be treated to the same crap as her mother, who wasn’t allowed to be fully human either. You really see the world in black and white, don’t you?

    The rest of your comment is nonsensical and completely ad hominem, I’m not even going to bother with it.

  • invalid-0

    If one is going to bring up Hitler it would make more sense to look at his policies–he banned abortion and birth control for Ayran women and forced it on those he did not want–Jewish, gypsies etc. The lesson one could learn from Hitler if one would look at it clearly is that it is NEVER a good idea for governments and political leaders to make decisions and laws about our most personal decisions–especially concerning our bodies.

  • invalid-0

    should be the end of it.

  • invalid-0

    Wow! A nasty lot of people with no heart for innocent babies you all are! Why are the tiniest human lives your enemies? I guess after either murdering your own babies via abortion or supporting your friend’s ‘choice’ to do that, it does make clear sense to me now why you would be so bitter and depressed and defend almost every anti-life position (with no regard for science, common sense, or virtue) with every ounce of your being. You want to justify what you have done; I understand. But, even at that, there is still hope for you. I pray life will begin looking up for you. Best wishes.

  • invalid-0

    OMFG…4life are you for real? You seem to know so little about science! If thats the Case and zygotes are babies then I have a lot of suffering to make up for for the miscarrages I have had…. WHY DID GOD LET MY “Babies” DIE THEN?
    Ugh, Worry about things that REALLY matter Like poverty and The people (already Born) suffering ALL over the world.