Policy & Politics
Health Workers' "Conscience" Rule Set to Be Voided
March 9, 2009
The Obama administration recently proposed rescinding a US Health and Human Services regulation that shields health workers who refuse to participate in care they perceive as violating personal, moral or religious beliefs. The proposal will be subject to a 30-day public comment period, officials said.
However, women's health, family-planning, and abortion-rights advocates criticized the old regulation's language as being so broad as to potentially create a major barrier to health services.
"We've been concerned that the way the [Bush era] rule is written, it could make it harder for women to get the care they need," an HHS official said on condition of anonymity. "We recognize and understand that some providers have objections to providing abortions," the official said. "We want to ensure that current law protects them. But the Bush rule goes beyond current law and seems to have upset the balance."
A new rule would be more specific to abortion, the HHS official said. Some predict the new rule would ensure access to care while protecting workers who object to abortion.
02.28.2009; Rob Stein
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