The Bush administration is once again trying to chisel away at Roe vs. Wade.
President George Dubya announced last week his plan to pass a resolution to the ‘right to conscience’ rule, which currently protects doctors, health providers and medical institutions who receive federal funding from being discriminated against if they refuse to perform or refer abortions based on their religious or moral beliefs.
Under Bush’s new rules, this protection will extend to anyone who assists in the performance of abortions, sterilization or any other surgery in which they morally object, along with any institution or program that is ‘related in any way to provide medicine, health care, or any other service related to health or wellness,’ states the proposal released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
This announcement is merely Bush’s last-ditch effort before he leaves the Oval Office to dissolve the protective barriers between church and state under the guise of a thinly veiled, broadly defined rule that will create more bureaucracy and difficulties for the reproductive rights of women.
The First Amendment is necessary to protect citizens of their freedom to practice religion.’ At the end of the day, doctors, nurses, surgeon’s assistants and other medical professionals are simply citizens behind the white coats, stethoscopes and scalpels and by no means should they be exempt from this right to stand by their beliefs.’ However, they also have an obligation to the rights of their patients seeking their medical knowledge and help.
The three laws to be reinterpreted under Bush’s new resolution are the Church Amendments, which states hospitals and other medical facilities receiving federal funds cannot force personnel to perform abortions if it is against their beliefs; the Coats Amendment of 1996, which protects hospitals or individuals who refuse abortion training; and the Weldon Amendment, passed in 2004 which states federal agencies and state programs cannot discriminate against insurance companies, hospitals and other medical entities for their refuse to provide, cover or refer abortions.
The problem with this resolution, other than it’s a blatant attempt by Bush to inject the church into women’s reproductive rights by claiming they are protecting the rights of morally conscience people in medicine, is that the definition of those covered under the rule blankets the entire spectrum of those workers in the field.
According to the proposal, everyone from the operating surgeon, assisting nurse or employees designated to clean specific surgical instruments who have a ‘reasonable objection to the objectionable procedure including referrals, training and other arrangements’ are protected.
How thin should ‘reasonable connection’ be spread?’ The person responsible for preparatory procedures, such as applying an alcohol prep pad for a needle, injection may refuse to do their job simply because they feel the need to apply their personal convictions against an innocent patient.’ What happens when a victim of rape decides it is too painful to carry a child resulting from a sexual violation, and the only attending nurse refuses to assist in the abortion?
Additionally, instead of prescribing birth control, providing condoms or referring the patient to take the Plan B pill, a physician or pharmacist can instead give a figurative prescription of the Book of Genesis if their religious or moral beliefs dictate that women should not control their birthing abilities in the slightest means.
The new rule states it ‘does not limit patient access to health care, but rather protects any individual health care provider or institution from being compelled to participate in, or from being punished from’hellip; (services that violate) their conscience.’
Despite this claim, the regulation does in fact stand in the way of women’s rights through a broad definition that allows those in the health industry to not only practice medicine, but administer their religious beliefs on their patients who, regardless of their sex, race or creed, require help. By eliminating the avenues of access to these services, the administration is in fact going against what it purports to do.
In passing this regulation, Bush is leaving it up to President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to get caught up in the tangled, bureaucratic mess of instituting another rule to trump over this one.
Women’s rights are just the tip of the melting iceberg if this resolution is passed before Dec. 20.’ The rule may also cover end-of-life procedures such as assisted suicide and artificial insemination.
By passing this rule, Bush is allowing free reign of acting through faith rather than acting on behalf of the good faith of the patient.