Repealing the Conscience Clause.
(Washington) The Obama administration is expected this week to begin the process of repealing so-called “provider conscience” regulations that could have been used to discriminate against gays, people with HIV/AIDS, and women seeking abortions.
The regulations, instituted in the last days of the Bush administration, strengthened job protections for doctors and nurses who refuse to provide a medical service over religious beliefs.
Human rights groups say the regulations could impair LGBT patients’ access to care services if interpreted to permit providers to choose patients based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or family structure.
The regulations also threaten women’s access to comprehensive health care by permitting pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception even when doing so significantly burdens the patient’s access, or to refuse to participate in an emergency abortion even when the woman’s health is at risk.
The Bush administration rule was quickly challenged in federal court by several states and medical organizations. As a candidate, President Barack Obama criticized the regulation and campaign aides promised that if elected, he would review it.
Late last week the White House released a statement saying that Obama supports a “carefully crafted” conscience clause – not Bush’s version.
The administration early this week will publish notice of its intentions, opening a 30-day comment period for advocates on both sides, medical groups and the public.
The administration already held a comment period regarding the laws. I hope that the "carefully crafted" regulations will protect the conscience of all individuals, not just those of health care providers and denominational institutions hell-bent on discriminating agains gays, women, and elders.